THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: For Shanthi S, it was always a chore to board buses. The very act of reading the nameboard of buses, filling up the forms or reading newspapers was something alien to her. But now, reading newspapers and news scroll is embedded in her life. Ever since Shanthi joined the elementary course offered as part of the Aksharashree project, life has thrown open new vistas to her. And encouraging Shanthi in her mission to be proficient in literacy is her daughter Sindhu S. “My mother is so excited to learn. She tries to read everything now and asks us for help when faced with difficulties. Between her work and classes, she squeezes in time to learn as well. I have never seen her this excited to learn something,” says Sindhu.
Shanthi is just one among the many thousands who have joined for the literacy mission ‘Aksharashree’. As many as 8,500 illiterate people in the city are being given classes under the Aksharashree project. The pilot project jointly implemented by the Kerala State Literacy Mission (KLSM) and the city corporation is fully funded by the latter. As many as 900 trainers have been roped in for the project. A review meeting was recently held to ascertain the progress of the project. Literacy Mission director P S Sreekala oversaw the meeting. The learners, as well as the instructors, are excited about the overwhelming response the mission has received. “The learners are very excited about the classes and they strive not to miss the classes.
The classes are empowering them by leaps and bounds. They need not depend on others anymore. The learners often inform us of how the classes have changed them and helped them do the basic jobs such as reading the newspapers or boarding buses with ease,” says Shamila R, an instructor and centre coordinator.
The first of its kind literacy project encompasses the elementary course, Class IV, Class VII, and Class X equivalency courses along with a higher secondary course. The classes are conducted at the 500 specially equipped Aksharashree study centres in the city. In the 100 wards, a total of 2,500 students have registered for the elementary course, 2,000 for the Class IV equivalency course, 1,500 each for the VII equivalency course and Class X equivalency course, and 1,000 for the higher secondary course.
A survey carried out by the corporation and KSLM found there were 11,764 illiterates in the city. About 7,256 women are estimated to be illiterates. “The thrust of the project is to attain 100 per cent literacy. The aim is to implement the free literacy project with the involvement of the city corporations across the state,” said a KSLM official.