Making primary education total

PROUD MOMENT: Students at a study centre set up under the Jyothirgamaya project at Nilambur

PROUD MOMENT: Students at a study centre set up under the Jyothirgamaya project at Nilambur  

Girish Menon

Thiruvananthapuram: Nilambur is all set to become the first panchayat in the country to provide total primary education to its population in the age group of 15-50.

The total primary education programme - Jyothirgamaya - has already started making waves with more than 1,500 learners arriving at the 142 study centres to gain qualification equivalent to fourth standard.

To help them in the objective are 300 facilitators offering voluntary service from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the convenience of the learners. By the time the project runs its course, these learners will be equipped to take the qualifying equivalency examination for standard four.

The State Literacy Mission (SLM) in association with the Nilambur Panchayat is promoting Jyothirgamaya. Several panchayats have also taken up the project in the right earnest, but none have been able to make the kind of headway Nilambur has made.

Says Aryadan Shoukath, Nilambur panchayat president: "Jyothirgamaya aims at achieving comprehensive progress in social, cultural and education field. The response of the learners has been encouraging."

By now, the panchayat has brought back four persons below 15 to the regular school stream. They have been taken under the Jyothirgamaya wing with literacy activists keeping a tab on their studies.

According to Mr. Shoukath, 200 learners who know how to read and write but are not able to come to the classes are being given special coaching and supplied with textbooks in order to help them qualify for the equivalency examination.

The State Literacy Mission and the panchayat worked in tandem right from its inception in December 2005. Since then, Jyothirgamaya has crossed milestones one after the other. A survey conducted in preparation for the programme identified 1,050 illiterates between 15 and 50 years of age and 540 educated below standard four.

Jyothirgamaya went through its preparatory process, with the resource materials prepared by the SLM. It had its share of `kalajathas', cultural fetes and other programmes.

Several other programmes such as "one learner-one tree", awareness campaigns were also tagged on to Jyothirgamaya. In order to make learning more attractive, the panchayat decided to give priority to the beneficiaries of Jyothirgamaya in various schemes.

"But without the panchayat's active involvement, this backward area, comprising tribal people and Other Backward Communities, will not be on course for creating a record," he said.

Says Mr. Shoukath, all study materials including blackboards, chalk, pencils, notebooks, textbooks and lighting were mobilised through voluntary contributions.

According to State Literacy Mission Director Konni Gopi several other panchayats have come forward to implement the project, taking cue from Nilambur's initiative.

The Chelambra panchayat, adjacent to Nilambur, Payyannur Muncipality in Kannur, Thiruvananthapuram Corporation and the Naduvathur Panchayat in Kollam have come forward to implement the programme.

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