Village Learning Center

The Village Learning Centre (VLC) has a multi-faceted character. It focuses mainly on middle school students. In addition to providing academic support, VLCs encourage children to exercise their rights & responsibilities and exhort them to be socially and environmentally sensitive citizens. We have a separate curriculum for VLCs, which involves the use of research, discussion, hands-on projects and advocacy.

Salient features of a VLC

  • Situated either in a building contributed by the village community or in common village space (such as school/temple premises)
  • Runs for 2.5 to 3 hours, 6 days a week after school, catering to students between Std. 5 and Std. 9
  • A trained faculty monitors children’s enrolment & attendance. Also facilitates participation by all children in the VLC’s multi-pronged activities.
    • Daily 1 hour is spent on schoolwork and assignments. The remaining time is spent on discussions, sport, cultural activities, projects, committee meetings, campaigns and other programs.

Our 5 VLCs catering to 250 students (largely in middle school) are in Thummalapatti, Sengattampatti, N.Pudupatti, Chinnamanaickenkottai and Nottakaranpatti villages.


Children’s Committee
Every VLC has a Children’s Committee comprising all children who regularly attend the VLC. This Committee consists of smaller groups, each group having separate responsibilities in environment protection, health and education. The Committeereviews the work of each group every month and provides help whenever required. The Committee has a President, Secretary & Treasurer, electedthrough the ballot system. The Committeecollects subscription from its members and uses the same for purposes it deems fit. Some instances where this subscription has been used are: (a) to buy a light bulb to replace the broken bulb at the VLC, (b) to buy brooms and dustpans to use in village street cleaning work, (c) to pay the bus fare of a few members who visited another VLC

Highlight – Sengattampatti VLC children’s club acquired a piece of panchayat land near their VLC to start a nursery by submitting a petition to the panchayat president!

Environment Protection Group
This Committee plans and executes projects to preserve the environment and to sensitize adults and children on the need for environmental preservation. Some activities done by the EPCs are:

  • Daily measurement of rainfall – With training support from their faculty, children made their own instruments and have been measuring daily rainfall, which is recorded on a chart. Using this, they plan to make a report on annual rainfall, which is available to the local farmers.

  • Nursery raising and sapling distribution - The Sengattampatti EPG set up a nursery with 800 tree saplings on the plot obtained from the Panchayat. 75 Children from 5 VLCs participated and got trained on tree plantation. Villagers did voluntary work to clear the plot. The EPG raised these saplings with care and got them ready for distribution at a large scale event.

  • Campaigns on environmental protection - The EPG conductscampaigns to sensitize children and adults on the importance of environmentalpreservation. They conduct dramas, cycle rallies and projects to drive the message home. Another campaign was conducted to exhort villagers to stop using plastic covers which pollute the environment.

Health Group
The Health Group plans and executes projects tocreate awareness on health & hygiene and monitors the same. Some projects/activities undertaken by the Health Group include:

  • Monitoring of health and nutrition
    Every month, the Health Group measures the height and weight of all the VLC members. Those with inappropriate BMI are asked to map out their diet over a week and the Health Group advises them on a balanced diet to improve nutrition levels.

  • Monitoring of cleanliness & hygiene
    The Health Group regularly monitors hygiene levels of its VLC members. It checks if children have brushed their teeth, had a bath and cut their nails. Deviating members are fined a penalty of Re. 1 until they observe these habits.

  • Kitchen gardens – Over the year, the Health Groupcollects seeds from harvested vegetables and every August (during the Tamil month of Aadi), it provides these seeds to motivated VLC members to raise their own kitched gardens. This group monitors the kitchen gardens periodically. This practice ensures that families have their own vegetable supply in their backyards and encourages intake of a low cost yet nutritious diet.

Education Group
This group monitors academic skills and progress. It develops and conducts weekly tests on different subjects to keep track of members’ academic skill levels. It identifies students with specific difficulties and provides support, either by helping directly with particular subjects or seeking help from VLC faculty for the same. This group, with help from the VLC faculty, develops teaching/learning materials to simplify specific concepts.

Workshops and Projects
In order to help each Group carry out its work effectively, we conduct periodic workshops for them and also get them involved in projects.


  • Workshop on vermicompost preparation - A workshop on vermicompost preparation was held toteach students to prepare it and promote its usage among farmers in the place of chemical fertilizers.

  • Do you wash your hands properly? Another workshop taught VLC members 11 steps in washing one’s hands properly and exhorted them to wash their hands thoroughly before and after meals as well as after using the toilet.

  • Workshop on yoga - A trainer from “Brahma Kumaries” Traditional yoga centre, Madurai introduced our VLC students to a form of meditation called Raja Yoga and taught the students to concentrate and meditate.

  • Field trip to ANSA, Trichy - Selected VLC students went on a field trip to the herbal farm at Anthyodaya Sangh, Trichy. Here, they gathered a lot of information on medicinal plants and also learned how to set up and raise a nursery. This visit proved very useful for the Sengattampatti VLC students to set up their own nursery.

  • Workshop on nutrition - The nutrition workshop covered the essential components of a healthy diet. Moreover, children’s weight and height were measured and they were taught to calculate their body mass index

  • Media Awareness Workshop - A 10-day interactive summer workshop for selected VLC students was conducted by 2 MSW student interns from the Madras School of Social Work, Chennai. This workshop made students aware of the influence of print media, television, cinema, mobile phone, the Internet & radio on students’ daily lives and provided insights on using media for productive purposes.

  • Workshop on the ballot system - A comprehensive workshop was conducted to teach students how to exercise their voting rights using the ballot system. Subsequently, all VLCs have been voting through ballot to elect their office bearers.


  • Camp to destroy invasive plants - An important project undertaken by the VLC students was a camp to destroy hordes of parthenium hysterophorus plants in selected villages. This plant species is known to invade farmland, pastures & roadsides, adversely affecting crop production, livestock and human health. By destroying these plants, the students performed a huge service to these villages.

  • Construction of absorption pit - Another useful project involved construction of an absorption pit near the VLC to collect waste water from households, thereby keeping the immediate environment clean.

  • Monthly newspaper - An innovative idea by our VLC students was the production of a monthly newspaper. This newspaper is brought out entirely by the students with help from their VLC teacher. It covers a wide array of topics containing sections such as local news, festivals, general knowledge, proverbs, poems, obituary, children’s corner, prices of local produce, weather, etc. It is creatively designed and illustrated to resemble a newspaper and armed with local information.

Click here to read our monthly newspaper »