It is currently monsoon season in Odisha, but the pupils are safe from the downpour in their new dorms. Thanks to the new building, they no longer have to put up with the drumming of heavy rain on metal roofs as they try to sleep. They are very grateful to those whose giving made this possible!
June 18th saw the start of the new school year at St Simon’s. There are now 235 pupils, 50 of whom were new this school year. Only 44 of the pupils are girls, a reflection of the fact that many Indian parents still regard the education of daughters as less important than that of their sons.
The end of year exams took place in March and most children did well. Six of the ten year olds were entered for a government run competitive exam with an average pass rate of about 10%. All six of the St Simon’s pupils who entered passed, an exceptional result for the school and a great opportunity for the boys involved. They will now transfer to a state-run residential ‘Model School’ in nearby village and will have a free education paid for by the Indian government up to graduate level.
In April, prior to the start of the summer holidays on May 1st, pupils moved up to their next class and on the last day of term all the parents came to visit. These families remain especially thankful for the provision of food for their children, made possible by the funding from our donors. Each year a special health check of the pupils is carried out by a local government team and any children who need it are taken to a district level centre for free medical treatment.
The most recent government inspection in July (which scrutinized all aspects of the children’s welfare and education) went very well and inspectors were impressed by the level of the pupils’ English.
About ten percent of the St Simons pupils are from a non-Christian background. When children are admitted to the school it is clearly explained to parents that pupils will take part in Christian devotions every day, and parents’ written consent has to be given. The pupils enjoy singing with great gusto - in English, Oriya and Hindi - and learning Bible stories each morning and evening. These sessions are led by the school chaplain, Brother John, who has been responsible for the pupils’ spiritual welfare since the school started eleven years ago.
The St. Simon’s children are taught by fifteen teachers, all of whom have a Bachelor of Education qualification and are dedicated to the well being of their pupils. Four of the teachers are women. A further ten non-teaching staff help provide care to the children. The school has recently appointed a Christian Head Teacher, Naynanada Edla, to run the school alongside the Principal Ravi Babu. Hoseoy Pal continues his work as an administrator. There will shortly be a Fire and Safety inspection which will enable the school to identify and put into practice any necessary measures to conform to government standards.
The recent support by Global Evangelical Mission (GEM) in the UK, has provided funding for the construction of desks and beds in the dormitory and school block. This construction is getting underway soon. GEM has also generously provided some resources for new computers for our recently added computer classroom at St. Simons. Thank you, GEM.
A huge thank you to all supporters of St. Simon’s School - The new year has gotten off to a wonderful start!
Bidyuta and the St. Simon’s Children and Staff