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Now Kerala bringing literacy to tribals, migrant labourers

Thiruvananthapuram, May 15: It has been billed as a state with 100 per cent literacy. But people there know they had an unfinished task. Having actually reached an overall literacy rate of 93.94 per cent, Kerala has now embarked on a programme to bridge the small gap in its achievements by training illiterates among tribals, scheduled castes, transgenders and the migrant labour communities. Stock-taking of the activities in the past two years of the Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority (KSLMA) revealed that 11,000 students — mostly from Wayanad and Palakkad districts — are at various levels of equivalency exams among the tribal community. There are also 5,300 migrant labourers, 2,000 from the scheduled castes and 145 transgenders whose literacy levels are now being raised.

“The main reasons for the programme to have got a good response was because the trainers (teachers) are drawn from these communities themselves, leading students to immediately correlate with them —the oldest of whom is a 90-year tribal woman in Wayanad,” Director of KSLMA, P.S.Sreekala said.

“We have 601 tribal teachers who are supporting us, besides retired teachers and colleges students. We have set out a timetable of 100 hours of classes where the basics of maths and Malayalam are taught to these illiterates and neo-literates. Our aim is to enable them to integrate themselves into the society, wherein they need not feel any sort of complex that they do not know to read or write,” said Sreekala.

While the fee for the 100-hour classes till the equivalent 7th is free, students have to pay Rs 1,950 to Rs 2,250 from Class X and above. For SC/ST students it is fully free. With the scheme picking up, the respective local bodies are supporting the students by paying their fees.

Twenty-six-year-old Sunitha, who hails from a tribal settlement at Peringottukunnu in Wayanad district, told IANS that she had just written the 4th equivalency test. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita