The nursery and primary section of the Chamraj School stands near the entrance of the large school site, its buildings decorated with brightly coloured wall murals and surrounded by neat hedges. From its gates, you can see out over the rest of the school and parade ground, and beyond the neat, green terraces of tea. Monkeys leap from the rooftops and are shooed off by staff.
Mrs Anu has taught science and art in this school for 25 years. In this time, she has seen the school improve a great deal. The Fairtrade Premium received by the estate for the sale of its Fairtrade tea has been heavily invested in the school over the past 25 years.
The building wasn’t good, it was very old. Year by year the building has changed, we now have smart classrooms, a computer lab. Everything is provided. Step by step the school has seen improvements. Now it is very good… the atmosphere, the teachers, management, it is very supportive.
It is not only the physical infrastructure of the school that has seen so much investment. The staff take pride in the wide range of opportunities provided for the children, and around 30 percent of the children at the school are not from the estate, ‘the school is good so everyone is sending their children. There are other extra-curricular activities, classes such as singing, art and craft, sports.’ So good, in fact, that she sent her own children to the school. Her eldest daughter attended the school and is now studying MSc in Biotechnology. Her younger daughter is 14 years old.
Mrs Anu says that ‘sometimes the parents struggle to give them… nutritional food’ so it is important that the school is providing food for the children. As well as providing food, children receive free uniform and sports shoes if they need them. The education itself is free of charge, and many activities and facilities in the school are funded by the Fairtrade Premium and the estate management. This is important for the parents as they are able to save the money they would have spent on their children’s education. And this education is incredibly important to the parents. Mrs Anu says ‘[the] tea pluckers, they want their children’s future to be good, so they want them to be in school and take a lot of interest in their studies.’ Many of the children graduating from Chamraj School go on to higher education, and go into professional careers, such as engineering and accountancy.
The foundation in our school is very strong…the school provides a good start for the children… Wherever they go they shine.