Dignity Through Education is a registered charity that provides university bursaries for underprivileged children whose families work on tea plantations in rural Sri Lanka.
Dignity Through Education was founded by a group of church members led by Mr Theva Sandanam Thevarokiam in 2015 in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. In that year 3 students were supported. Of these students 2 graduated in 2019, one in Information Communication Technology and the other in Law. The former has started giving private tuition in ICT to plantation children in her home area, prior to taking up the offer of full-time government employment. The law degree holder recently took Oaths as an Attorney at the Colombo High Courts.
Of the 16 students supported in 2016, 10 are now in their 4th year. They are studying various disciplines in several universities in Sri Lanka. They are supported by donations made by generous individuals and will be sitting their finals this year.
In 2020 we supported a further 13 students and in 2021 a further 10. There are many more students looking for support if funding became available.
Our mission statement
We aim to help students from low-income families whose parents live in tea plantation areas. Students receive the vital additional funding they need to complete university degrees in order to ensure they face a successful future and live in dignity.
Inspiration behind our work
In 2014 Theva read an article written by Dr Jehan Perera, Chief Executive of the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka (NPC) organisation established in 1995. The article was titled ‘The forgotten community’ and highlighted the plight of the people living in the tea plantations. This inspired Theva to meet up with Dr Perera and to offer to help by providing additional financial assistance to students of poor Tamil tea plantation workers, who had already gained admission to universities. It is a great achievement for students to achieve A Level qualifications let alone university education, considering the lack of basic necessities in their daily lives. They are first in their families to gain admission to university. Education is the only way for these students to gain any kind of dignity in life. Otherwise they will end up working in the plantation like their parents and continue to live in ‘line rooms’.
Wages per day is Rs 1000/-.(£4.00) and out of which Rs 900/- will be paid by the Estate( Plantation) management and Rs 100/- will be paid by the government.
To qualify for a day’s full wage a tea picker must pick 20 or 22 Kgs of green leaf. (different plantations determine differently the amount of green leaf to be picked for full day’s wage) A tea picker will be carrying the picked load whilst picking more throughout the day. If a tea picker does not pick enough for a day’s full wage of Rs 1000/- then the picked tea leaves will be paid at the rate of Rs 40/- per kilo. Estates provide only a minimum time of days work per month, not exceeding 12 to 13 days.
Tea pickers have been fighting for the Rs1000/- wage for many years. It was last year that both the plantation and the government agreed to this arrangement.
Learn more about who we support.