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LNM Trust was registered as a Public Charitable Trust for the purpose of empowering women and children in economically weaker sections of the society. The trust started off with a tailoring class for women and an evening tuition center to improve the academic performance of slum children going to government schools in Kannagi Nagar,, Tamil Nadu Slum Rehabilitation colony, Chennai.
LMN’s mission is to improve the quality of future for economically underprivileged-who invariably turn out to be socially deprived too-children and women through providing a good standard of English medium education by administering co-educational play schools/schools and adult vocational/literacy. Consequently, we have thought it appropriate to locate these centers only in slum areas to make it easy for the parents, who in majority of the cases are unwilling to send their wards to schools since it deprives them of an immediate helping hand in their economic activities. While we started out with the above goal and started providing them ‘pro bono’, through our experience we gradually realized that anything free is never valued by anyone, even a person who cannot afford anything. We learnt that even for apparent who lacks the means to send her children to school, an institution providing free education was not something they took seriously. The other major lesson that we learnt was that by providing our services ‘free’, we are in fact depriving them of the sense of pride and self-esteem that a parent would feel ‘educating’ their children. Due to the above, we experienced dropouts and regular absenteeism initially in our centers.
As a result of the above learnings, We may sometimes charge very nominal fees, which is affordable to the parents and at the same time gives them the pride of sending their children to a school and paying for it too. The children and women chosen for the centers are mandatorily from the economically weaker section of the society only. In our playschool in Chennai we have had parents from relatively well-off sections of society wanting admission for their children, to save on fees, which we have been firmly declining. To the parents whose wards study with us, LMN offers them an opportunity to educate their children in English medium, an extremely important value proposition in the EWS strata, at an extremely affordable cost. This has enabled the LMN centers to not just become centers of education but also become an integral part of their lives and the locality’s eco-system.