Picture by Mayukh Sengupta
Aug. 9: Poverty, health, sanitation and the need for education are the focus areas of Round Table India, a social organisation, according to its national president, Christopher Arvinth.
Arvinth was in town recently and spoke to Metro in Sector V after a meeting with his teammates. "Issues such as health, sanitation and poverty alleviation have always been the focus of our local chapters but in 1997 we adopted Freedom through Education as a nation-wide project and are still pursuing it," said Arvinth, who took over as president on July 1.
He believes education is the way out of poverty and towards that end, Round Table India has built 75 classrooms in and around Calcutta in 2016-17 at a cost of Rs 5 crore.
Given that many schools in the country don't have a roof overhead, lack ventilation and conduct three or four classes simultaneously in the same room, the first step is to provide students dignity of space by building more classrooms. To date, Round Table has built over 5,000 classrooms in over 2,000 schools, impacting six million children across India at a cost of over Rs 212 crore.
But classrooms don't guarantee students. "We have to create interest. So we also provide sports equipment, computers and science labs and, of course, toilets and drinking water," said Arvinth, who is also the CEO of a Coimbatore-based security agency. To check dropout, the organisation also offers vocational courses.
For his tenure as president, Arvinth has chosen the motto United in Service. "We are all in this together - we volunteers, the local people, the government, the media," he explained.