Latur Boys' hostel was founded after the 1993 earthquake when there was an urgent need for accommodation and educational support for disadvantaged and destitute Dalit boys. Many families in the Latur and Osmanabad area of Maharashtra still have limited access to education as most village schools are for children below the age of 10. Secondary schools are up to a 15km way away.
Many parents are illiterate, landless labourers earning less than Rs.30,000 (£330) a year. They choose to bring their children to work with them in the fields rather than send them to school. The fact that the region is prone to earthquakes and droughts means that people move from place to place in order to find work, which compounds their children’s educational needs.
Latur Boys hostel wardens work with local schools to provide study support and tuition so that students can achieve their educational potential. The majority of students stay with the hostel for 5 years to complete their secondary education. Boys increase their confidence by taking part in planning and running the hostel activities alongside adults. The student parliament gives feedback to the wardens on issues that are concerning the boys. One area that the boys particularly like to influence is the weekly menu! Parents attend workshops to raise their awareness of the importance of education, and the effects of addiction and domestic violence. The hostel is also supporting parents to build more sustainable livelihoods. The hostel recently bought a sewing machine for a father who was skilled in tailoring but could not afford the equipment to use this skill. The sewing machine has enabled the father to significantly increase his family income. To express his gratitude, he is making the boys’ school uniforms for the coming year free-of-charge.