T h u l i r
About Us
A Panoramic View Of Thulir
A Panoramic View Of Thulir

"THULIR" is an Education Resource Centre at Sittilingi [a tribal village in Dharmapuri district of Tamilnadu, India], for children. It is a Tamil word meaning "a tender shoot", also "to sprout".


We believe,

ุ that children from disadvantaged sections in the rural areas need an education that would help them to gain self respect and help live with dignity. For this they need to acquire skills relevant to the community and the local economy.
ุ that children have a natural curiosity and capacity to learn that needs to be nurtured, giving them space and the right environment.
ุ that children need the company of sympathetic adults who can encourage/ motivate them to acquire skills and knowledge.

Thluir is a place,

ุ for children to be in the presence of adults who can motivate children and provide support for learning 
ุ for children to access basic learning resources that are not available to them in their homes or schools [art materials, books, lab facility, computers etc.]
ุ for children to attend supplementary classes , or to self study/ prepare for exams etc. away from crammed and noisy homes
ุ for children to interact with visiting professionals from various walks of life to get exposure.
ุ where young adults would be trained to create similar spaces for children in their own villages
ุ where facilities such as tools and workshops are made available for students to learn skills of working with their hands.
ุWhere students get councelling/ advise on options available in various vocations/ careers

On This Page:


Anuradha and Krishna


In the Year 1988, as fresh graduates with a degree in Architecture, and disillusioned with the formal education system, we moved to the village community of Gandhigram in Tamilnadu. Our disillusionment came about with our active participation as students in the National Campaign for Housing Rights. The campaign brought us in contact with a number of grass roots activist organizations and NGOs and gave us a peek into the rural reality, which we had no clue about, as students of Architecture. We realized the severe limitations of the formal educational system and its lack of relevance to problems on the ground. One of us gave up the idea of preparing for higher education and the other discontinued from the Masters course in Architecture midway.

Our work in Gandhigram was a beginning in the long process of re-educating ourselves. We had to learn many skills from scratch [such as masonry!] and learn properties of common but unknown [to us] building materials, such as mud. We also had to motivate and train [and train ourselves in the process] our own team of construction workers who would be interested in alternative and environmentally sustainable building technologies. We received a lot of support from ASTRA in Indian Institute of Science, in learning about alternative technologies.

In Gandigram we also helped setup a women’s group to produce and market items ranging from coir mats to B&W TV sets. This was a formative, crucial phase in our life, when we made friends with like minded people; and decided to get married and stick to living & working in rural areas.

Our work with alternative building had attracted some attention and NGOs and even a corporate client approached us for help. We made use of this opportunity to spread some of the ideas we were working with, especially the idea of training local( so called unskilled people ) in building using alternatives as these technologies are based on the idea of introducing improvements in the use of local materials and generating more local employment .We were surprised that even the corporate client - usually used to the idea of contractors from the metro coming to build their structures, agreed with the idea and pursued it for almost 8 years and helped us to train several groups of village masons n their area.

In 93 we moved to Gudalur, a tribal area in the Nilgiris district of Tamil
Nadu. Here we worked with the adivasi youth. The NGO ACCORD was doing very interesting work with the aim of equipping adivasi youth with varying skills to manage the affairs of their own community. These ranged from skills as community organizers , community health workers, nurses, teachers, masons, plantation managers, hospital administrators, office admin staff. Most of the Youth had not finished schooling .Yet the the faith reposed in them by the team , and the quality of training provided by committed professionals, produced spectacular results. The outcome was an adivasi group of committed individuals who go about their business with dignity and self-respect and display skill levels that evoke the respect of the local non- tribal commmunity that had till now looked down upon them.

Our involvement in the organization gave us a range of experiences from very skill specific[ masons training/ working on the rural housing programme] to the more general one of motivating youth and helping them to grow into self confident adults. Here we did more formalised training sessions, to help the mason trainees get basic engineering skills such as drawing and estimation [ for which we had to start from basic math : multiplication and division].

While this was happening, our children were growing up, we got more interested in Children’s education, and taught them basic math and language at home. We also realized that more than designing and putting up buildings, we really enjoyed teaching rural people. Their keen interest in acquiring knowledge, and the satisfaction of providing knowledge and help one learn a skill was something we found very satisfying. Especially in areas where the quality of Education is appalling [if at all it is available!], and where right education can help a person gain self-confidence and self- respect, we find such interventions more meaningful.

In 2000-2001, we traveled for a year with our children to various projects/ schools, with the idea of getting exposure to working with children. The highlights were teaching English and Math. To the tribal health trainees in the sittilingi hospital for 3 months, working with the children in the Krishnamurthy school in Uttarkashi for 5 weeks and later at the Timbaktu school for 3 months. Our plans had to be modified somewhat due to the earthquake in Bhuj [as Krishna was there on the day of the quake conducting a workshop on stabilized mud block making] . The second half of our year was spent mostly in Kutch working on the rehabilitation of the earthquake affected people.

ACCORD also runs an alternative school, Vidyodaya, which was started for the team’s children and later converted into an adivasi school. Our two sons grew up and started gioing to Vidyodaya.. From 2001 to 03 for two years Anu taught children in this school.

After all these experiences we feel
ุ that children from disadvantaged sections in the rural areas need an education that would help them to gain self respect and help live with dignity. For this they need to acquire skills relevant to the community and the local economy.
ุ That children have a natural curiosity and capacity to learn that needs to be nurtured, giving them space and the right environment.
ุ That children need the company of sympathetic adults who can encourage/ motivate them to acquire skills and knowledge

Regi and Lalitha who were working with us in Gandhigram as doctors ahd moved to Sittilingi in 1993 and set up a community based health programme. We had been making several visits through the years to provide help with the construction of their buildings, and also interacted with thgeir team doing training sessions. We have seen the place and the team grow and heard from them the need for a meaningful intervention in education. So we moved to Sittilingi in June 03.

We have set up Thulir,
ุ for children to be in the presence of adults who can motivate children and provide support for learning
ุ for children to access basic learning resources that are not available to them in their homes or schools [ art materials, books, lab facility, computers etc.]
ุ for children to attend supplementary classes , or to self study/ prepare for exams etc. away from crammed and noisy homes
ุ for children to interact with visiting professionals from various walks of life to get exposure
ุ where young adults would be trained to create similar spaces for children in their own villages
ุ As the children grow into young adults, the centre can conduct vocational training courses, and network with other centres where interested students can obtain such training. [this would happen not immediately but after a few years].

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On This Page:
Anuradha and Krishna
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On This Page:
Anuradha and Krishna
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A Panoramic View Of Thulir Masons from Gudalur....

A Panoramic View Of Thulir ....and the house they built