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Fritzee’s Fact File – 11

Quality education: Its free!
For over a 100 years, Olcott Memorial High School (OMHS) in Chennai has been giving free education to the poor. It is run by the Theosophical Society [TS], Chennai which maintains a low profile.

The students are children of domestic workers, labourers, hawkers, municipal employees, flower-sellers and artisanal fishermen. They grow up mostly by themselves and are street smart. What they lack is social poise,” says Lakshmi, principal of Olcott Memorial High.

Learning to read, calculate and pass exams is just a small part of the learning process for students of the school.

It costs Rs. 23 lakh per year to run OMHS, of which a budget of Rs. 2 lakh per year is reserved for nutrition alone.

Examinations are a secondary issue here. 42% drop out after class X. But they are self-assured kids with a positive outlook. Of the 58% that go on to class XII, 70% enroll for undergraduate education,” says Lakshmi.

Its a rare piece of India in OMHS. Pity there are not enough of such schools.

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