Society Matters | Volume 32 No. 3 | Spring 2022

7 Volume 32 No. 3 | Spring 2022 Society Matters centres in the villages for the children to study,” Fr Suresh said. The SVD also runs a remedial school and hostel associated with the Janssen Social Centre. This is a school for children who have dropped out of school and for child labourers, which began in December 2003. One of the key focuses is to improve literacy in an area where many children drop out of school before Year 10. Fr Suresh said a 2007 report showed that 26 per cent of rural households and eight per cent of urban households in India do not have a single member above the age of 14 who can read or write. A 2010 news report said that less than half of school-age children in India go to school and a government report showed that only 37.1 per cent of the population aged 3-35 years has received the free education offered in Telangana State and around 53 per cent of girls aged 5-9 are illiterate. “Our experience is not any different,” Fr Suresh said. “This school for the drop-out children and child labourers was established in 2003 and I visited many Gothi Koya tribal settlements and admitted their children to the school. It is very distressing to note that not even one mother of a Gothi Koya child is literate.” He said many tribal families don’t see the benefit in sending their children to school, where the rewards might not be reaped for years, while the monetary gains of their children working as agricultural labourers in their own fields or in those belonging to other farmers in the village are clear and immediate. “The children, as well as their parents lack motivation to go to school and moreover, as some of the villagers are totally illiterate or the literacy rate is negligibly low, they have no role models to look up to.” Since opening the Janssen Bala Vidya Bhavan school and hostel, the SVD’s activities at the school have gained acceptance and recognition from the local people and villagers are sending their children on their own to the school and hostels. Fr Suresh thanked all those, including the SVD AUS Province, who have helped support their mission. “We sincerely thank all our benefactors for their generosity in helping the poor children and people in our mission,” he said.