The district unit of the Kudumbasree Mission has extended a helping hand to the poverty-hit tribal colonies at Chalakkayam, Kambakathumvalavu and Attathode in the district.
A team of Kudumbasree workers, led by mission district coordinator G. Murukan, visited the colonies and supplied packets of food grain and provisions to 21 tribal families on Tuesday.
Mr. Murukan told The Hindu that the Kudumbasree Mission has set up 30 tribal neighbourhood self-help groups at Adichippuzha, Naranamoozhy, Kurumbanmoozhy, Avanippara, Kattathippara, Angamoozhy, Gurunathanmannu, and Vechoochira with a view to empowering the tribal women in the colonies. They are given training in tailoring and artificial ornament-making. The mission will explore the possibility of associating with Vana Samrakshana Samitis for marketing various forest produce as part of its tribal women empowerment programme.
According to Mr. Murukan, mission workers have found many girls in the Kurumbanmoozhy and Adichippuzha tribal colonies anaemic. A clinical examination of the blood samples of 80 tribal girls in these colonies has found that the haemoglobin count of all these girls is below 10. The district unit has been providing supplementary food to all the adolescent girls for the past four months. The unit has also supplied 45 kg of rice to two Alternative and Innovative Education Centres (AIECs), also known as Ekadhyapaka Vidyalaya, at Attathode and Chalakkayam as the tribal children there have not been getting midday meals for the past four months.
Meanwhile, the Alternate School Teachers Association (ASTA) has blamed the authorities at the Block Resource Centre (BRC) attached to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the Tribal Welfare Department for the plight of the tribal families in the hilly tracts of Pathanamthitta. A mass petition, submitted by education volunteers attached to all the 12 AIECs in the district to the block project officer of the SSA at Ranni on November 6 last, had alleged collusion between certain quarters attached to the Tribal Welfare Department and the BRC to lure tribal children from the AIECs to certain aided schools till the student strength assessment by the Education Department was over by the first week of June.
ASTA district secretary P.G. Saji has alleged that the denial of midday meals to the poor tribal children at the AIECs and the honorarium to education volunteers is part of a hidden agenda to discontinue the much sought-after elementary education programme in the tribal belt.
Mr. Saji said a report on the sad plight of the tribal children at the AIECs in the district has provoked the culprits behind the denial of food and education aids to these hapless children. ‘‘Now, certain quarters attached to the BRC and the Tribal Welfare Department are trying to pass the buck on the poor education volunteers in an attempt to save their skin,'' he has said.
The ASTA leader has called upon the Education Minister and the Director of Public Instruction to conduct a detailed inquiry into the functioning of the BRC and the coordinator in the larger interests of ensuring justice to the poor tribes in Pathanamthitta.