Schooling at the Kollihills
The Kollihills are one of the seven hill ranges constituting the Eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu, in Namakkal district. It lies west of the Pacchaimalais (Green Hills), with a total area of 503 km2. The altitude ranges from 180 m to 1,415 m above sea level. The tribes who live on the Kollihills and the adjacent hills such as the Kalrayan hills, the Shevaroy hills, the Javadi hills, the Pachamalai hills are all the ‘Malayalis’ or the hill-dwellers. The Malayalis of Tamil Nadu were a total population of 357,980 in 2011 Census with nearly 51 per cent were men and boys and nearly 49 per cent women and girls.
Of the scheduled tribe population of 38,678 in 2011 Census, 21,073 were literates and schooled both inside and outside of the hills. While the literates constituted 54.5 per cent of the tribal population, a very low literacy in comparison with the state of Tamil Nadu, 58.1 per cent of the literates were men and boys and 41.9 per cent of them were women and girls. Among the Nadus of the Kollihills, Vazhavanthi Nadu had the largest of the literates (3,020) with men and boys accounting for 55.4 per cent of the literates and women and girls accounting for the rest, 44.6 per cent.
And so, a considerably higher proportion of the tribal people of the Kollihills were not schooled and that is a great disadvantage today in their development. However, among the literates of the hill villages, there are several graduates employed locally as well as away from the hills. Men and women of the hills are found in many of the cities and towns of the state, studying in schools, colleges and universities and also employed in places such as Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruppur and other industrial towns. There are women graduates among them and girls are increasingly schooled in the Kollihills as well as in other places of the state.
The system of education in the Kollihills is constrained with inadequacies, teachers, schools, infrastructures and amenities. Out of the total enrolment, the dropout rate is alarmingly high, touching 60 per cent after middle school due to lack of awareness on education. There are 43 elementary schools, 14 middle schools, 2 high schools and one higher secondary school (statistics of Education Department in Kollihills). The people are however beginning to realize the importance of education and the tribal parents now support their children to achieve a very decent level of education. Their sight is on urban jobs and accompanying comfortable life for their children. The future will be brighter for the tribe.
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