Despite the fact that many welfare initiatives for tribals have been being passed in the state, a huge sense of dissatisfaction continues to prevail in Kerala as none of these schemes have really come close to realising the desired results envisioned by the policymakers.
Among various schemes, it is the ones focusing on children and education in the tribal pockets that have been the worst losers—whether it the lack of adequate or well-trained teaching staff allocation in these areas, or how funds allocated for such schemes never really reach the benefactors.
To effectively bring a change in some of the most backward tribal settlements in Kerala that continue to remain isolated and disconnected from the modern world, the State Literacy Mission Authority (KSLMA) has envisaged a one-of-its-kind social literacy programme which will rope in individuals from these hamlets to impart training to their fellow community members.
Instead of state-commissioned teachers, whom unfortunately the tribal communities consider as outsiders and more often than not feel disconnected to, the new literacy drive will train the ‘preraks’ (instructors) from these regions, who can then take the learning to their own settlements and educate their community.
A two-day training programmed has been finalised by the concerned authorities that will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Thiruvananthapuram on March 24.
About 350 instructors have been identified by KSLMA, out of which as many as 100 hail from areas with very little or probably no educational reach.
“The tribal instructors who have been selected for the scheme are those with minimum educational qualifications. No such comprehensive scheme has been previously formulated elsewhere in the country towards tribal welfare. It is not just education that we are envisioning through this drive but more importantly, various life skills that will help bridge the blaring gap between both worlds,” says Pradeep Kumar, one of the officials associated with the mission to The Better India.
A similar programme has already been deployed in Attappady in the Palakkad district, and various tribal settlements across Wayanad and even these instructors will be part of the training programme.
“Unlike the usual literacy training drives, this programme will cover 17 distinct areas that includes law, higher education, health, gender equality, secularism, cinema, employment, food, democracy and so on. This will be the first time in the history of Kerala’s education sector that tribal communities have been selected and invited to be part of the social literacy programme, which in itself, is a reformative step,” Pradeep explains.
The programme will be implemented in a total of 100 tribal hamlets spread across Kerala, & as for instructors, 25 each have been selected from the Palakkad & Wayanad districts, 14 from Idukki, five from Thiruvananthapuram, & the rest are from the remaining districts.
With the aim of bringing the tribal population to the forefront of society, the new literacy drive envisions to empower these communities to the point of self-sustenance and help obliterate the disconnection that the adivasis feel towards modern-day settlements.
Not just limiting their reach to children and young adults, the instructors will also be entrusted with the responsibility of teaching anyone and everyone, who wishes to learn and receive an education.
Edited by Gayatri Mishra.