Empowering people, bridging communities, through education.

Forgotten, isolated and severely impoverished, the scheduled tribes of Karnataka are on the brink of extinction. In a small step towards their rehabilitation, Titan has joined in to help connect these indigenous people with the world, through the bridges of education.

Mist-drenched and shrouded in foliage, the mountains are as ancient as the earth itself. In the vast stretches of nature’s realm, even time moves at a different pace, keeping step with bird calls and tumbling streams, standing still with the wind and the twilight. Nestled amid these mighty mountains, live forgotten communities... communities that even time has left behind.

As per the 1991 Census, scheduled tribes accounted for 8.08 per cent of India’s population, or 67.76 million people, and were concentrated in hilly and forested areas. In Karnataka, a total of 50 ethnic groups have been listed as scheduled tribes, or 6.55 per cent of the population. Within this cluster are certain tribal communities known as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), such as the Koragas of Dakshina Kannada district and the Jenu Kurubas who are concentrated in the districts of Mysore, Chamarajanagar and Kodagu.

A major part of Titan’s targeted initiatives for the underprivileged and neglected communities, the Affirmative Action (AA) programme began as a means to enable employability skill development, entrepreneurship development and education support.

Over the past four years, propelled by a dedicated team, the AA programme has grown to include scholarship funding, supporting government-run technical institutes, career counselling programmes as well as vocational training. Along the way, we’ve adopted a tribal school and reinforced focus on tribal communities for employability skill training.

Titan has also been working with these communities through its partner organisation, the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM). SVYM has been enlisted and recognized by the Government of India as an Established Voluntary Organisation (EVA) for its work among the tribal population. The organisation had worked extensively towards conceptualisation and implementation of welfare programmes for the tribals of Karnataka.

A major impetus has been the SVYM-run Viveka Tribal Centre for Learning, Hosahalli. A residential school, the centre supports the educational needs of several tribal communities, such as the Kadu Kurubas (Betta Kurubas), Soligas, Yeravas and Paniyas, as well as the Jenu Kurubas. Although the communities are located in different pockets in the fringes of the forests of Mysore, Chamarajanagar and Kodagu districts, the school caters to all families living in HD Kote taluk.

The school has been set up with the goal of imparting quality education to tribal children, especially girls. Targeting children aged six years to 15 years; it focuses on values, literacy, numeracy and appropriate vocational training through joyful, experiential and child-centred learning processes. Apart from holistic development of the children, the centre conducts soft skill training, field visits, counselling, career guidance and support. Cultural, literary and sports competitions are conducted on a fortnightly basis, along with regular health awareness programmes and sex education classes. Titan supports the education of children in the 8th, 9th and 10th classes as well as a Teacher's Education Programme (Diploma in Education) conducted by SVYM.

This year, the school enrolled 202 (49 per cent) girls out of the total strength 412 children. The average attendance at the school is 93 per cent. The capacity building programme for teachers includes sessions on communicating in English, effective utilisation of technology and child psychology. Teachers are trained along the National Curriculum Framework, to help deliver child-centred education. Sessions on remedial teaching/cognitive skill development are also routinely conducted. The students benefit from periodic reviews by psychologists, regular workshops and remedial classes, as well as a comprehensive evaluation programme.

Titan has always been on the forefront of initiatives aimed towards the empowerment of underprivileged and neglected communities. Over the past four years, we’ve participated in external assessments of our AA programme, to consistently better our CSR impact. This year, Titan achieved a leap of over 100 points from the previous year and was placed in the band of 525-550 on a 1000-points scale. A jury of our peers at the Tata Group recommend Titan for recognition in the0 adoption of the AA (education category). Receiving the award from Dr NS Rajan, Chairman, Group Affirmative Action Forum, amid the presence of dignitaries from the Tata Group of Companies, was a special highlight.