Meet Shri TJ John who runs a tutorial college for the dropouts of the vanavasi communities and trains them to pass the Class X and XII examinations
T Satisan, Kochi
According to Bharatheeya culture and tradition Guru is equal to parents and God hence the Sanskrit saying ‘Mata Pita Guru Daivam,’ the four icons one has to worship. Here, Guru is third on the list where as God is the fourth. But, things have changed in the new world order. These days teacher’s job has become almost like any other job, a salary-oriented activity to make both ends meet. But, still there are some silver lines in the otherwise cloudy skies. There are some teachers who still maintain the divinity they are supposed to. TJ John of Wayanad, the hilly vanavasi district of Kerala, is such a person. He has taken up the mission of ensuring education for the children of the most backward communities among the vanavasis of Mananthavady, a village in Wayanad. He has been running his Nalanda Tutorial College in Mananthavady since the year 2000. He runs the college for the dropouts of the vanavasi communities and trains them to pass the Class X and XII examinations.
In fact, John is from Thriuvananthapuram, the capital city of the state. He came to Wayanad in 1988 as a project officer for literacy campaign which led to the 100 per cent literacy of the state. It was a great experience for him. He could witness the plight of the vanavasis in general and communities like Atiya, Paniya, Kattunaikkar and Oorali in particular. These four communities belong to the most backward class among the vanavasis. He conducted a survey in 126 colonies and could find out that 1600 drop outs were from the classes between V and XII. They constituted hardly 10 per cent of the total of the thousands of dropouts. When this alarming scenario was revealed before him he thought that his destiny was to lift them to the realms of elite society.
Even though John kicked off his college for general students, later he confined it to the most backward communities mentioned above. After couple of years he had to leave the school for taking up some assignments in Delhi. But, he re-launched it when he returned in 2005. Now, when he looks back he is content with his activities. Children are passing standard X and XII examinations. He conducts classes for the teachers’ training courses of Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha also. And they get government jobs. More than 100 students of him are in government service now.
The same time John shared the bitter facts and realities he does face to run the show. More than half of the students never pay the fees as their parents cannot afford it. The students belonging to the other half give ‘something’ occasionally! There are five other teachers in the college including his wife, a pass out of Hindi Prachar Sabha’s teachers’ training course. He has not paid the rent of the tutorial building since the last 8 months, again due to lack monies! He says, he requires about Rs 50,000 a month to keep the things going. John, a BSc (Botany) graduate, has passed Rashtra Bhasha Hindi Praveen of Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha.
John regrets, despite submitting several projects before the government for the education of the vanavasis, nothing has materialised so far. But, he is still cheerful. He enjoys the service he is able to render to the unlucky and deprived class of the society. The children are hardworking and studying seriously. That is more than enough for him. He has got two sons; both are engineers and employed.