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This TN school is funded by money from selling Palmyra sap

- April 3, 2022

Chennai, April 3 (BPNS)

Tirunelveli Roman Catholic diocese in 1940 opened a school in Anthoniyarpuram in Thoothukudi district to educate the children of palmyra climbers. The school was in a quiet hamlet surrounded by lush green palmyra trees and it was upgraded to a middle school in 2003. Trouble began here as the school management ran out of funds, but not to be let down, the entire village dominated by palmyra climbers joined together to run the school and to scout for funds.

The local people set up a ‘Kalvi Nidhi Kulu’ or education fund committee and opened a pathaneer ( sap or juice tapped from fronds of palmyra tree) outlet along the Tirunelveli- Thoothukudi highway and started selling the juice or sap of palmyra trees.

The school committee president, Siluvai Anthony while speaking to BPNS said, “ The palmyra drink or pathaneer is purchased by the Kalvi Nidhi Kulu  at wholesale prices and we sell it to customers from our outlet set at Thoothukudi- Tirunelveli highway and the money earned is used to meet the expenses of the school.”

He said that the climbers tap around 600 litres of Pathaneer per day during the peak months of June, July and August and around 500 litres would be sold in no time at a price of Rs 100 per litre. The balance of pathaneer is used to make’ Karupetti’ which is a sugar supplement used in tea and coffee.

The school have at present 163 students, including 95 in primary and 68 in middle school and Anthony said that most of the students have passed the school with good marks.

He said that the palmyra climbers are also benefitted from this project as they need not wait for hours on roadside to sell pathaneer and they get a ready market. Also, the children of the palmyra climbers are getting an education from the school.

However, the village which has 400 families is falling short of palmyra climbers as many have opted for other professions and only 9 climbers are now remaining in the area.

The school authorities also said that the support extended by the local people for running the school is immense and Jaison Raja, an office-bearer of the school while speaking to BPNS said, “ The support extended by the local people by generating money selling pathaneer is of immense help in running the school. The school approach other people for support during the lean months of palmyra climbers.”