Sanctuary Schools – History

The Sanctuary Schools were set up in 2004 specifically for children from five  remote tribal villages located on the fringes of the Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary. The villages are Kalligutta, Mugilupodalarevu , Kotabanda, K.P.Banda and Namalavanka. With the establishment of Government schools in the vicinity, there are now only two Sanctuary Schools-Parijatham in Kalligutta and Chamanthi in Mugilupodalarevu.

Working with the tribal people in forest conservation brought us close to them. The villages were remote and schools for their children were far away and therefore unsafe for them to go every day. Almost all the young children in these villages, therefore, were not going to schools. And the adults in the villages had not gone to schools either. School education was an immediate need for these children. Three remote tribal villages were identified and schools were set up in there. These schools were called ‘Sanctuary Schools’ as they were located in tribal settlements just outside the Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary.

These schools were started for the tribal children in their villages with the request generating from the adults in the community. These children come from highly disadvantaged and marginalized communities. They were discriminated against in villages and were not attending schools. It was quite common to see children aged 10, 12 or even 14 years who had never attended a school.

The Sanctuary schools were, therefore, started to include these children in the process of education; to make the learning meaningful and relevant to their lives. In particular, we wanted to encourage girls to attend schools. The communities helped in starting of the schools by providing physical space and common land in their own villages.