AREDS - Association of Rural Education and Development Service was founded in the year 1980, guided continuously by the conviction that "Education should precede development, and development should be achieved by collective and conscious numbers".
It believes that "Small People with conscious and collective numbers can create another world of Peace, Justice and Equality for all" and Education and Organisation is the strategy and conviction to reach the vision: Towards One Humanity. AREDS is a grassroots organisation working for the development of rural poor especially women, Dalits and children in Karur District of Tamil Nadu.
The initiatives taken have made people conscious of their rights and made them realise that their strength lies in their collective numbers. This realization has led them to organize themselves in AREDS initiated People Movements viz, SWATE, PDM, DRALM and KADALU at Karur District.
AREDS entered into integrating people organizations at District and State levels in order to meet the challenges thrown by gender discrimination, exploitation due to the oppressive mechanisms of caste system and neo-liberal economic policies and programmes, which threaten the very livelihood of a great majority of people, especially the dalits and women in rural Tamil Nadu.
These organizations, with their distinct identities, have developed their own political stand and create reflections on the crucial issues and policies that affect their target groups. Now it has collaboration with various movements from local, district, state, national, and international levels.
The role of AREDS is threefold:
Grassroots - based Organisational Training
Advocacy and Lobbying
Networking on various current issues like:
Panchayat Raj Empowerment
Dalit Land Rights Campaign
State Women‘s March
Food Security Campaign
Forum for Protection of Water and Livelihood Resources.
Hence, the role of AREDS spans from a micro (organisation) level to macro (state, national and international) level to ensure the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the disadvantaged. Apart from the above, AREDS is a consultative organisation to overseas NGOs for various development initiatives. It also plays the role of participatory evaluator, providing space for university students both local and overseas to complete their speciality studies for their PhDs.
AREDS is a partner organisation with various international organisations especially with regard to the dialogue of civilisations and development of people and alternatives and Fair Trade Movements.
Prioritised programmes for AREDS‘ interventions:
The prioritized major program components are categorized into five categories focusing the deprived sections – dalits, backward communities, women and children.
The major programme categories are:
Education and organisation at the village, panchayat, block and Karur District levels. Organising Sangams / Federations / People‘s organisations / People‘s movements and networking at the District and Tamil Nadu State level.
Strengthening of livelihood and economic base of the target sections with tangible measures.
People‘s Governance Cell (PGC) to deal with the Panchayat Raj system in order to make it a real tool for grassroots democracy Studies, documentation and publication for information dissemination and to support lobbying and advocacy. In the event of celebrating twenty seven years of service, AREDS recommitted its mandate and rejuvenated itself to face future challenges especially in the face of globalisation that led to the liberalisation of the Indian economy in 1991, by giving importance to privatisation of even essential services such as water, electricity, food and security. This occasion also provided the opportunity to reflect on the past, understand the present and think of the future.
Changing governments notwithstanding, there are a number of political parties and movements that work under struggle for the rights of the disadvantaged. It becomes a small effort when compared to opposing negative forces that push them towards poverty, hunger and oppression.
Strengthening and sharpening gender sensitisation/ consciousness of dalits and women, building and strengthening people movements with political and ideological sustainability have become more necessary in the present context. This helps more than ever to make the disadvantaged live a free and dignified life, thus making our nation sovereign and free from hunger and violence, and a milieu where equality, solidarity and co-existence reign.