Parameshwaran Nair (name changed), 65, a business man from Varkala, had to abandon formal studies at an early age.

He always cherished a dream which is finally coming true due to his own efforts. He had enrolled for the neo-literacy programme of the Kerala State Literacy Mission and passed the tenth equivalent examination with flying colours in 2012-13.

Shedding inhibitions, an increasing number of neo-literates in the district are taking up literacy classes (4th, 7th, and 10th equivalent examinations) of the Mission. As per the statistics with the Mission, 3,509 got enrolled for the 2013-14 examination; it was 2,961 in 2012-13.

“Last year, (2012-13) there was an 87.42 per cent pass while it was 76.43 per cent for 2011-12. Most of the students are government employees. While some are retired hands,” Mission District Coordinator Deepa James says.

Not so smooth

But things are not as smooth as one expects it to be. Many have not attended classes. Some do not take the examinations for fear of being mocked by society. In 2011-12, only 1,269 of the 2,594 registered students took the examinations while it was 1,327 out of 2,961 in 2012-13.

“Cases where they refuse to attend classes in a centre in their own village are ample. There is still this taboo about going to school after you turn 30,” Ms. James says. Rajamma, a 56 year-old Anganwadi teacher, had a different set of problems. . She travelled all the way from Attingal to the examination centre in the city, only to get back as ‘examination fear’ gripped her. Luckily, she had two more attempts and managed to clear the examination. But, the officials did not want to take chances.

They introduced counselling sessions with support from the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET).

The district, with 25 study centres, has made commendable progress with a student from the Neyyattinkara study centre coming first in the State in last year’s examination. The district bagged the fourth position in the State for its performance in 2012-13.

“Applications are invited for the next batch of students. The last date is July 31,” Ms. Deepa says.