Attappady set to become country's first fully literate tribal block

Attappady set to become country's first fully literate tribal block
Tribal villagers in a hamlet in Attappady. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Attappady, located on the foothills of Nilgiri hills in Kerala's Palakkad district, is considered one of the most backward tribal hamlets in the state. For long, it had been in the limelight for long for the wrong reasons – infant mortality, malnutrition, poverty and underdevelopment. But that's changing now, thanks in part to the efforts of the Kerala State Literacy Mission (KSLM) to see the tribal hamlet become the first complete literate block in the country.

Several programmes have been implemented by the KSLM to achieve this rare feat. Tribals, fisher-folks and migrant labourers have all been inducted into the program that will enter its third phase on September 27.

With the completion of the project, the place can be declared as the first complete literate tribal block in the country as per the criteria set by UNESCO, KSLM director P S Sreekala said.

According to the UN agency, a place can be declared as complete literate if more than 90 per cent of the native population attains literacy, she said.

A total of 5,031 people had been identified as illiterates in Attapapdy in a survey conducted prior to the launch of the KSLM's literacy-cum-equivalency drive for the first time there in December 2016.

Of them, 1,117 people in the first phase and 2,553 in the second phase have become literate under the project, taking the total number of neo-literates to 3,670.

"Now, only 1,361 people remain illiterate in the region.

We are launching the third phase of the drive on September 27 to bring them also to the world of literacy", Sreekala said.

Of the total 275 instructors deployed for the implementation of the Attappady literacy programme, 218 were tribals themselves.

An hour-long class, involving 15-25 students, is scheduled in each village daily. Free food is provided to them through the 'community kitchen' initiative of the Kudumbashree, the state government's poverty eradication mission.

"Besides achieving the complete literate status, our objective is to ensure the neo-literates a facility to continue their studies as long as they wish.

We have plans to provide newspapers and periodicals to them in their respective hamlets with the support of the local self-government department," she added.

Attappady, home to 32,956 tribals, is one of the most backward regions of the state. The major tribal communities living in the region are Irulas, Mudugas and Kurumbas.

The hamlet had witnessed a large number of infant deaths due to malnutrition and genetic disorders in recent years.

(With inputs from PTI)

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