KARNATAKA

It is party time for Malappuram panchayat

Vijayabheri project brings laurels to the district

Abdul Latheef Naha

MALAPPURAM: It is party time for Malappuram District Panchayat. The award for the best district panchayat brought little surprise to Malappuram; but it fetched recognition and more zest to carry forward the work the panchayat has been doing for the last four years.

It is hard to find a dull face among the managers of the District Panchayat. The beaming faces of president and vice-president M. Ummer and Abdurahman Randathani respectively are testimony to the fact that they, like their colleagues and employees, are on cloud nine. And they do not hide it. The party they plan to throw on Wednesday will be a natural expression of their joy. Let us confront them with the question, "what have you done to qualify yourself for the award for the best district panchayat?" Neither the president nor his deputy is at a loss for words. Rather they turn voluble, presenting at length the achievements the district made since 2001.

In spite of the backward stigma it carried, the district has achieved many firsts during the last four years. It has piloted several projects, showing the other 13 sibling districts that if there is a will, there must be a way. The way Malappuram chose in implementing projects like Akshaya, Vijayabheri and Smart Classroom has been exemplary. Little wonder the others are reduced to emulate Malappuram.

The prestigious Vijayabheri project of Malappuram District Panchayat has rung in a revolution in the education sector. When the Vijayabheri project, involving parents, teachers and a host of other organisations, was launched in Malappuram in 2001, the SSLC pass percentage in the district was 33.24. Within a year, it rose to 41.23 per cent. In 2003, the SSLC percentage of Malappuram was 48.44. The dream project reaped dividends in 2004 when the results peaked to 58.77. "If you don't call this an achievement, what will you?" asks Mr. Ummer. The IT project called Akshaya is now popular beyond the country, thanks to the initiative of Malappuram District Panchayat and the entrepreneurship of the district. It was a project begun simultaneously at Thiruvananthapuram and Malappuram. But the capital district failed to take up the challenge when Malappuram showed the world how e-literacy could be achieved even without being literate. Seven districts in the State have now taken up the Akshaya project. The Smart Classroom project, by which all 72 government high schools in the district were given computers and digital light processing (DLP) projectors, too earned Malappuram a unique place among the districts. Education Minister E. T. Mohammed Basheer has now directed all other districts to emulate Malappuram in this.

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