Source : The New Indian Express
For the past two months, the State Literacy Mission has been conducting a literacy class in Malayalam for migrant labourers.
For Odisha native Celiamma who made Kerala her home a few years ago, Malayalam now comes naturally. But it wasn’t easy. Until two months ago, all she could do was understand and converse a bit in the language. The tangled and gnarled set of letters continued to confound her. But that is all in the past. Seated in a class bursting with women like her and clutching onto her ‘Hamari Malayalam’ textbook, this 35-year-old converses in Malayalam with total abandon. She says that the language is easy to learn. “Now I get to read the display boards in buses and can converse easily with the vegetable dealers at the market,” says a proud Celiamma.
The night has settled in, but the room is abuzz with activities. In rows of benches and desks filled to brim, the women sit and wait in eager anticipation. Celiamma too has lost herself in the commotion. Their textbook was changing, it was going digital. The screen flickered to life with a picture of roti. The audio didn’t play, but despite the glitch, the students raucously spelled out ‘chappati’, even as the Malayalam letters were being introduced one by one onscreen. Soon pictures of ‘chaval’, ‘dhooth’, ‘anda’ and so forth popped up and the class resonated with Malayalam translations as the students spelled each letter out one after the other.
A literacy class arranged by the Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority to make the migrant labourers adept at handling the vernacular language is in progress here. It has been more than two months since the scene has been playing it out in the Working Women’s Hostel near the KINFRA Apparel Park. The second phase of the literacy programme ‘Changathy’ has more than 70 takers in the city.. The classes are being given to the migrant labourers who expressed their willingness to learn the language.
After an arduous day at work, the women migrant labourers shuffles into their makeshift classroom at the women’s hostel. They listen in rapt attention as the teacher introduces the various intricacies in the language. The studious stay back after the lessons, sometimes trying to learn more or doing the homework. Over the months, some left, some joined, while some continued, trying to ace a language which was hitherto alien to them. The lot was in for a surprise on Sunday night, with everything going digital.
“Pronunciation is always a problem for them. Unless they get to hear the right way a word is pronounced, it won’t help. It is all new to them and merely going through the textbook wouldn’t suffice. As such, we have used the digital platform for this,” says Sreekala Sreekumar, master trainer at the Literacy Mission.
The programme attempts at teaching migrant labourers to read and write in Malayalam. The pilot run was held in Perumbavoor. “This will go a long way in empowering them and putting a check in their exploitation. Those who want to pursue higher education can do so,” said P S Sreekala, director of the Literacy Mission.
“We intend to roll this out across the state. In the first phase, we came across many who weren’t literate at all in their own language. This mission will help us understand them better and foster a good relationship. This can go a long way in improving their standards of living,” she added.
The basic literacy course is a three-month one. The textbook has been crafted in a realistic and utilitarian way. “The syllabus is such that it introduces the real-life scenarios to them. Language poses a barrier when they go to hospitals. They do not get to communicate properly and this has serious repercussions. Learning the vernacular language will help them while availing such services. Now instead of pointing at groceries, they can communicate their requirements,” says P Prasanth Kumar, district coordinator of the mission.The ‘students’ are now gearing up for their exam which will be held July last. “Now that I am familiar with the language, I don’t have to worry about getting lost,” beams Mudavi Revati from Odisha.