We Support Education
Loyola Kapepaladi school for Dalit and other impoverished children, was founded in 2012 by Fr. Eric Mathias SJ, a Jesuit priest serving in this area at that time.
Fr Eric's vision was that this school should be a 'beacon of light to eradicate illiteracy, caste system, bonded labour and discrimination of all types', for the poorest children living in remote and backward villages in this part of Karnataka, southern India. After meeting Fr. Eric and Fr. Maxim, a senior priest working alongside Fr Eric, and hearing about their inspirational project, Supporting Dalit Children joined hands with the Fathers and started fund-raising both for the building costs and the annual running costs of this great new school.
We support Loyola Kapepaladi school by sponsoring its students as well as through individual donations - the gift of education really is the greatest gift for a Dalit child. Our sponsor parents live in countries all over the world and many have already visited the school and met their sponsored child face to face. We are constantly looking for more sponsor parents, not only for the students who aren't yet sponsored, but also each year another class of 40 students is enrolled into the school.
With the direct contact we have enjoyed with Loyola Kapepaladi school for over 10 years, we can offer more personalised sponsorships. Sponsor parents frequently tell us about the great joy and sense of fulfilment that sponsoring a child gives to them. Often sponsor parents choose a child the same age as their own child, grandchild, niece or nephew, so the two children can develop a greater understanding and empathy about the positives and negatives of each other's cultures and the challenges they face.
Loyola Kapepaladi School
Loyola Kapepaladi school educates 400+Dalit students from the age of 3 to 14 - from Baby Kinder Garten to 8th Standard.
Their school motto is 'Reaching the Unreached' - reaching out to thousands of Dalit and other impoverished families living in, and around the village of Pannur. At the school's inauguration ceremony in 2012, Father Eric addressed the parents. He told them it was their school in their village for their children. Whilst watching the parents listening to Fr Eric, it was plain to see how excited they were for their children being the first generation of children from their down-trodden community, to be given such an important opportunity that could ultimately lift them, and their families, out of poverty.
The key that makes Loyola Kapepaladi school stand out from nearby village schools, is that it teaches in English medium which is normally only taught in full fee-paying private schools. In India, English medium qualifications carry more importance when applying for further education or a job; the poorer students would not normally have access to an English medium education. Without Loyola Kapepaladi school, the sad reality is that children from this backward rural area would follow the same path as their illiterate parents, which more often than not, means an insecure and impoverished lifetime of hard work in the fields or in the home, and for girls, both.
Loyola Kapepaladi school is effectively a private school as it receives no Government funding, but the Dalit parents cannot afford the school fees. All students’ parents are, however, asked to pay a small contribution towards the fees as this helps them to feel more in partnership with the school rather than receiving charity, and it also places more importance on their child’s education.
Supporting Dalit Children's collective financial support plays a major part in the funding of Loyola Kapepaladi school, its school hostels, and the school bus service collecting and returning school children to their villages. By sponsoring a child, each sponsor parents subsidizes the cost of each child’s education to an enormous extent.
We've seen so many examples of young men and women who haven't had the same opportunities in life that students at Loyola Kapepaladi school will have. Girls and women in particular often suffer abusive relationships and hardships throughout their lives. But the gift of education can change this and be the beacon of light that Father Eric's vision now provides for Dalit children. Each child at Loyola Kapepaladi school has a genuine and tangible chance to escape a life of hardship and poverty.
Supporting Dalit Children is a voluntary charity - there are no wages paid and the office running costs, as well as travel costs to India, are all paid by the charity's trustees. The building of this new website has been paid for by a donation. In this way, Dinah and her team enable 100% of every donation given, whether to sponsor a child, support an Appeal or support one of our social projects, to be sent directly to the schools.
Since 2012, Loyola Kapepaladi school has grown from 50 to over 400 students. It is a testimony to what can be achieved in a rural village in India with an inspirational vision, collaboration, humility, determination, hard work and love.
What happens to Loyola Kapepaladi students after the age of 14,or 8th Standard?
At the end of 8th Standard, Loyola Kapepaladi students transfer to Loyola Xavier School in Manvi, where their high school education and continues. After 10th Std, the students have the opportunity to enrol at Loyola College which is on the same campus as Loyola Xavier School.
Loyola Xavier School
Loyola Xavier School has the same ethos as Loyola Kapepaladi school. Children from the age of 3 - 16 are educated here, and there are presently over 1000 students. The school is based based in the town of Manvi, 16 kms from Loyola Kapepaladi school. Our sponsored children start their school life at Loyola Kapepaladi school, but after 8th Std, they move to the Manvi campus which is bigger and has better facilities for older students.
Loyola Xavier school was founded in 2004 for India's poorest children, hence its motto "Reaching the Unreached". Loyola Xavier schools was founded by the Pannur Manvi Mission, at that time led by two Indian Jesuits called Father Eric and Father Maxim. The Mission reaches out to serve India's "poorest of the poor" - children who are bonded labourers, those who are severely malnourished, children of the Devadasi (temple prostitutes) - basically all the children living with the greatest needs. The Fathers' vision then, as it is today, is to educate and empower helpless and neglected Dalit children - helpless because Indian society discriminates against them socially, educationally, economically and emotionally.
The Fathers' vision of how the poorest children should have access to the best education, has proven to be a success as many children once sponsored, have gone on to take Degrees, further education, and are now working. The Mission is a living example of how Dalit children have the same talents and gifts as middle class Indian children, and if given the right education and pastoral care, these once forgotten children can stand shoulder to shoulder with those from higher castes.
Loyola College and University
The inauguration of Loyola College in Manvi took place 17th January 2015, and marked the official opening of this incredible building that provides 6th form and Degree studies for the Manvi students, many of whom we are sponsoring. The building stands out majestically on the landscape and represents the first University built primarily for Dalits. The inauguration ceremony and programme of dance was a great and memorable occasion. Many dignitaries were invited including the Diocesan Bishop, a former Home Minister and several other politicians from all parties. Over 3000 people travelled from all around to be part of this special day.
We interviewed Fr Eric and Fr Maxim in 2009 and asked Fr Eric what his ambitions were for the Mission? He said that his dream was to provide a university for Dalits within 25 years. His dream became a reality rather sooner than that (!) and the funds were soon pledged to dig foundations and start building the university, floor by floor. The first classrooms were occupied in 2012 and the building was completed three years later. Loyola College represents a culmination of the Fathers' vision for elevating and empowering the Dalits.
All students must pass their 10th Standard exams in order to qualify for the next two years of study - PU1 and PU2, which is the equivalent of our Sixth form. The focus is therefore very much on their studies in this academic year. The students move to classes in Loyola College to take their PU1 and PU2 studies in the same three subjects they have studied in their Pre-University classes in, for example Arts, Commerce or Science. After completing PU2, students will be encouraged to take a Degree. Supporting Dalit Children's sponsorship programme continues until each student has left the Manvi campus, whether they leave after 10th Std (which is unusual), PU2, or after Degree.
In 2019 the first Alumni gathering for former Manvi students took place. Here is what Divya, one of the students sponsored by Supporting Dalit Children said:
"The journey of my life began to change when I stepped into Loyola Institutions in the year 2006. The institution had humble beginnings with few students. Every year we emerged stronger with better knowledge, like the seeds of our dreams being germinated. I belong to the second batch of the students. I witnessed advancement in every stage of our formation from better to best, with all the struggles and smiles. My family and I owe a lot to the Jesuit Fathers and Mrs Dinah for helping me reach from nowhere, to somewhere and in cherishing my dreams. Today wherever I am and whatever I do, it is all because of the support of my teachers and the Jesuit Fathers. I shall remain ever grateful to them." Divya has since completed her Civil Engineering Degree, achieving the highest marks in the University for her year. She is now preparing for her IAS exams.
These photographs show students sponsored by Supporting Dalit Children, who are now working for Tata in Hyderabad. It was a fantastic experience for Dinah to meet these students at their place of work, and celebrate with them the successes of their education and how the support they have had has made such a tangible difference to their lives. The students send back most of their salaries to their families for the first few years of employment, as their families are very poor and all have debts. A proportion of their salaries are also used to support a younger family member's school fees. It was humbling to hear about how little of their salaries they actually keep for themselves.
These young men and women in the photos, represent the success of education for Dalit students, and what an incredible difference it can make, not just to them but to their families.