Come October, 120 inmates of Kuthiravattom mental health centre will get lessons in Malayalam

In their effort to return to normal life, a group of 120 inmates at the Government Mental Health Centre, Kuthiravattom, is getting ready to step into the world of Malayalam letters.

The District Literacy Mission, which is behind the initiative, will formally launch the training programme here on October 3. The learners include Keralites and people from other States. Training will be imparted to them with the support of trained resource persons from the National Service Scheme (NSS) and the District Literacy Mission.

Post-treatment, the selected learners are mentally fit to attend classes. They are staying back at the mental health centre as their family members are disinclined to take them back home owing to the social stigma surrounding the mentally ill.

“This is the first time that the Literacy Mission in the State is taking up a learning programme for the inmates of a mental health centre. So, the programme has several positive strokes,” says M.D. Valsala, district coordinator of the Literacy Mission. She says the aim is to guide the inmates on to the path of learning and help them forget their sorrows through reading and sharing.

The suggestion to launch the literacy programme came from the Mental Health Centre authorities. Soon after getting the proposal, the Literacy Mission discussed it with the NSS heads for recruiting voluntary service providers. The recruitment of staff will be completed by October 1. They will be provided special training to deal with the candidates compassionately. The classes will be offered on a regular basis and will cover basic literacy lessons in the first phase. A batch of 20 persons will be given lessons by the trainers, using a special module developed by the Literacy Mission. Now, a majority of the learners are women, and the list has been prepared in consultation with the centre authorities.

The learners include illiterates, school dropouts, and those who have forgotten their alphabet.

“So far, we have not approached any government department to fund the scheme as it is now being conducted on an experimental basis. Once we are ready to start equivalent literacy programmes, it could be considered,” says Ms. Valsala. The resource persons will offer their support free of cost, she says.