The Residential school in Sivasailam was taken over from M. Jesudasan in 1956 and integrated with Avvai Ashram, a unit of Gandhigram Trust. It is on about 3.7 acres of land housing 80 (30 boys and 50 girls) students (2016-17). The number of boys far exceeds that of girls; the parents of girls are not confident enough to send their girls out of home. These are very poor families, mostly farmers around the area. Normally it can accommodate about 120-130 students.
The staff consists of one Head Master, three BT assistants, two secondary grade teachers, one Tailoring Instructor and one watchman. Three special teachers have been appointed under SSA scheme supported by Government. The salaries of the school staff is taken care of by the Government. In addition one male and one female warden, one office administrator, two cooks, one gardener are here supported by the management. These are from the Ashram’s well-wisher families from the locality.
Education and boarding are free for the students. The school follows the State Board syllabus and has classes till the 10th std. To provide further training after the 10th board exam, the school has also started a vocational training programme with different plans for the boys and girls.
There are people who come in, sometimes on a voluntary basis, to teach the girls basket making, mesh chairs etc. The major scheme is that of tailoring instruction for the girls. After which they are given assistance to get tailoring machines either to take up jobs from home or set up their own tailoring unit.
Boys have several more opportunities even outside the area besides tailoring as a career. Many have been sent to learn Printing Technology in Chennai. Others have been sent to Palayankottai to take training in two-wheeler mechanics and Electricals etc. Still others have now been sent to ‘Crocodile’ Pants manufacturing unit for the different departments – parceling, ironing etc. Now, offers have come from Tirupur for both boys and girls.
The school has taken up cultivation in the lands behind the school. Here they grow silk cotton, cucumber, sometimes varieties of tuber to be sold outside for some income. The students with the help of the gardener take up this cultivation work. Paddy is also cultivated (one bhogam), after which the land is left fallow to regenerate itself. Besides this other extra-curricular activates that they get involved in are gymnastics, hand work, gardening, dancing etc.
Boys have won awards and shields from state level athletics championships for deaf and dumb children. The students feel more at home here than in their own homes since they are able to relate to the others who are in a similar situation as themselves, and a homely atmosphere which caters to all their emotional needs as well. Recently the Scouts and Guides Training has been started in the school. This is the 2nd special school in the state (first one being in Chennai) to start this training.
The Japanesh Government donated a hostel for boy’s worth of 41 lakhs in 2007. The construction cost for girls hostel was donated by State Bank of India in 2009 worth of Rs. 13.10 lakhs.
The compound wall is now constructed with the help of Simpson Group of Companies (donated 5 laks) and Shri Willion herbet from Germany (donated Rs. 2 lakhs). The Steam boiler worth of 1 lakh was donated by Aravind Eye Hospiital, Madurai. MSPV Polytechnic, Pavoorchatram helped us for maintenance of water facilities by providing water tanks.
The school needs further infrastructural assistance – classrooms, auditory aids and other special equipments to help the students; other assistance – in-house vocational training programmes instructors and aids, extra-curricular activities, etc
People can contribute by
(1) ‘Adopting’ a child, i.e. supporting his / her education, maintenance and placement,
(2) Sponsoring some activity or infrastructural need or