by Chris Ford
MELBOURNE 17th Nov: - Students in Year 7 and Year 8 at Salesian College Chadstone will this week receive visits from Fr Pappu Xavier, the Director of Education in the Diocese of Vellore, where Bishop Chinnappa, a Salesian, is the Bishop. Fr Xavier will visit classes, speak with the students and lead them in the celebration of the Eucharist. According to Fr Pappu Xavier economic poverty continues to be a serious problem in southern India which the Church is trying to tackle through
education. In the Vellore diocese more than 40% of the population is illiterate. Poverty is a major cause of illiteracy; the great majority of poor people belong to the lowest caste of society. Fr Xavier said he is convinced that education is the key to breaking the tyranny of poverty in India. “Our schools, which cater for children of all castes and religions, have a vital role in preparing youth for gainful employment,” Fr Xavier said. He is directly responsible for 67 primary and 13 secondary schools, many of which lack basic essential teaching and sanitary facilities. “I am concerned that so many of our schools are in very poor physical condition. At present we simply do not have the resources to build classrooms that are really necessary and also to undertake much of the urgent maintenance,” he said. “Most of the parents are very poor; they are able to make only a minimal financial contribution to the school. In addition the Diocese is totally responsible for large numbers of children in boarding schools and orphanages. We are caught in a vicious circle of poverty. Because the people are poor, they are unable to provide adequately for their children’s education; and without a certain standard of education and training, employment opportunities are very limited indeed. We need help if we are to break out of this vicious circle and improve the lot of the poor
Tamil people of southern India,” Fr Xavier added.
Though the needs are great, Fr Xavier is most appreciative of any small monetary contribution. For example, $25 will educate and support a poor child for a month; $150 will pay the wages of a teacher for a month. A large new classroom can be constructed for $4000.