Ten years of Kids School: ”School not work“

In 2009, the Migros Kids School in Tirupur, Southern India, celebrated its tenth anniversary. A happy day for over 1,300 children and a success story for Migros development aid.

A classroom equipped with computers is not exactly headline news, at least not in our part of the world. In Tirupur, though, it is a sensation. The biggest challenge was not acquiring the computers and bringing them here. It was getting them up and running in the first place, because there is no stable supply of electricity in the region.
Thanks to Migros, this problem, too, has been solved. In 2009, the school was given a solar installation for its tenth anniversary, so in future it will have its own power supply.
With the computers working, the children are learning – and beaming with pleasure. That would be a rare sight in our part of the world, where most children are less than enthusiastic about school.

In Southern India, the grim reality of everyday life for children is not going to school, but going to work. Changing the situation is the declared aim of the Kids School project in Tirupur, set up in 1999 by Migros and the German foundation KIDS e.V. in Cologne. “School not work” is the motto, and the objective is to offer a better future to children whose parents are on low incomes, and most of whom work in the local textile factories. The Migros aid fund provided CHF 400,000 to finance building land, buildings and school buses. In December 2009, the Federation of Migros Cooperatives committed a further CHF 150,000 for the expansion of the school.

Lessons began in 1999, with just 29 children in the palm-leaf-covered provisional school. At first it was difficult to convince the parents that going to school would improve their children's lives in the long run. But attitudes quickly changed. In December 2000, the new school building, with 14 classrooms, was opened and the number of schoolchildren rose to 43. A further school building was added in 2005. Meanwhile, a kindergarten and health clinic had also been built.

In the 2009/2010 school year, ten years after it began, there are 1,321 children at the school. Each day, six school buses pick up the schoolchildren and their 48 teachers from the surrounding villages.

The Migros Kids School is a private school that only admits children whose parents earn no more than the equivalent of CHF 100. For just CHF 190, one child can receive education there for a whole year. The school relies on funding and donations to keep it going. For instance, the Southern Indian producers of Migros textiles pay three centimes for each of the Kids School labels that they attach to the clothing they make. This pays for around 50% of the school’s running costs. Other Migros suppliers also help with the funding: instead of sending promotional gifts, they donate the money to the school in India. These two ideas help more than a thousand children.
Migros has always had a particular interest in the abolition of child labour. The Migros Kids School project is a great institution for protecting children from exploitation and offering them a better future.