The larger aim of the programme is to integrate the migrant workers with the state’s culture, so that they don’t feel alienated.

Keralas second literacy revolution Govt teaches Malayalam to migrant workers
news Literacy Friday, December 15, 2017 - 21:10

The 100% literacy achieved by Kerala for the first time in the country as part of the Kerala State Literacy Mission, was viewed as the first revolution by the state government. Now, the second is ‘Changathi’, which represents the Mission’s quest to teach Malayalam to migrant workers in Kerala.

“The first education revolution in the state was when the state achieved 100% literacy in April 1991. “Teaching Malayalam is indeed the second education revolution in the state,” said Mission Assistant Director K Ayappan Nair.

Changathi, which means friend in Malayalam, was launched in December 2016 by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. It is Kerala’s unique mission to teach the land’s native language to workers of other states. The larger aim of the programme is to integrate the migrant workers with the state’s culture, so that they don’t feel alienated. They will be taught how to read and write in Malayalam so as to enable them to mingle more freely with locals in the state.

On Friday, selected local bodies in 13 districts of the state submitted a survey report to state Labour Minister TP Ramakrishnan at a function held in Thiruvananthapuram. Of the 14 districts in the state, the pilot programme was launched in August this year in Perumbavoor municipality, in Ernakulam district. The population of migrant labourers is the highest at Perumbavoor in the state.

“We were faced with many questions during the launch and now at the expansion phase of the project, like what is the need to teach Malayalam to workers from other states and apprehensions regarding their criminal nature. But this didn’t dampen our spirits. We view migrant labourers as human beings and not as criminals. Migrant workers are an integral part of Kerala’s industry and construction sector. Without them, these sectors would come to a standstill for several days. We can’t isolate them,” Mission director PS Sreekala said.  

“The success of the pilot programme makes us more confident. It was the college students who took classes for the migrant labourers there. Now, the society in general, be it the public or the students are friendlier to the migrant workers in the state and our apprehensions have gradually disappeared,” she said.

In Perumbavoor, 432 migrant labourers have been taught the basics of Malayalam in the past three months, through the Mission’s Continuing Education Programme. The schedule of the classes was arranged as per the working hours of the labourers, in the evenings and on Sundays.

The next phase of the programme will be launched in those local bodies where the number of migrant workers is the highest in each district, like Kazhakuttam in Thiruvananthapuram and Perinad in Kollam.

The survey was conducted by college students and volunteers of non-governmental organisations. Kerala hosts migrant workers from almost all the states in the country as well as Nepal. An estimated 25 lakh migrant workers are working in the state.

The mission has also launched a programme to bring trans persons drop outs back to school. 

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