THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala, which takes pride in being a cent percent literate state, seems to have developed total indifference to literacy activities lately.
The Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority (KSLMA), which spearheads the literacy movement in the state, has been plunged into deep financial crisis with no funds allotted to the Mission since April 2011, resulting in the possibility of literacy activities grinding to a halt.
According to sources, the Mission has been running its activities with the active support of local bodies. As of now, it has been facing a debt burden of Rs 12 crore, mostly owed to panchayats. Thanks to the tenth equivalency programme it runs, which is self-funded from the fees collected from adult-learners, the KSLMA has been keeping itself active.
The KSLMA faced its first setback when the Centre taking the stand that Kerala was overqualified for funds stopped the allotment of funds to the Mission. The then LDF Government came to the rescue and converted KSLMA into LEAP Kerala Mission aimed at boosting non-formal education in the state. A fund of Rs 12 crore was set aside in the last budget by the then LDF Government.
However, the LDF Govt had demitted office without issuing the notification regarding the conversion. Since the UDF Government came to power, LEAP reverted back to Literacy Mission, while continuing with the activities started during the last few years. ‘’We have not been given any money since April 2011. If it was not for the local bodies and the support of our vidya kendrams, we would be have gone broke by now,’’ agrees KSLMA Director P Alassankutty. The Mission collects Rs 1500 from adult-learners who appear for the tenth equivalency examination. According to the director, the funds for other activities are often mobilised from this money. The preraks (literacy volunteers) have already threatened to keep away from the job since their payments are due for many months now. The textbooks have not been distributed for the equivalency programme at many places. The learners and preraks have been helping themselves with photo-copies of the textbooks.
The termination of three former employees from the Mission by the Govt created a furore recently with agitations being held for many days in front of the Mission office. The lack of funds and complete dependence on the local bodies had led to disillusionment among the volunteers too. The Education Dept would have to provide a fresh impetus to revive literacy activities in the state which is heading to a halt.