THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: 21-year-old Gautam Kerketta, who hails from a village in Gumla district in Jharkhand, is enamoured by the state. Having been in the capital for six days, participating in the Tribal Youth Exchange Programme, Gautam says the education, culture and economy of the state have higher standards.
“It has opened our frontiers and mind,” says Gautam who is a BSc Physics student. “After coming here, I could understand that there are a lot of employment opportunities. I also understood that a lot of students from here go abroad for higher studies and for their careers. Now, I think that I can also go abroad,” says Gautam.
He was in the city as part of the 13th exchange programme. Every student who was part of the programme echoed the same sentiment. Gopal Ram who led the team from Chhattisgarh said the time spent in the state helped in his skill development. Gopal who started a youth club in his village says that what he had learnt from the programme will be implemented in his village.
“We live in a place riddled with Naxalites. Compared to that, Kerala is peaceful and everyone is educated here. We went to Technopark and it looked like a huge factory. I came to understand that a lot of people are working in the IT field. Education is very important. It reflects on society and is very important for society’s development,” said Gopal.
For the many students who were part of the programme, the programme helped them widen their world. The programme organised by the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, Kerala Zone, started on from March 22 and ended on Monday. It was held under the aegis of the Union Ministries of Youth Affairs and Sports, and Home Affairs.
The youths were selected from the districts of Kondagaon in Chhattisgarh and Gumla, Khunti, Palamu and Hazaribagh in Jharkhand. As many as 270 students from Jharkhand and 30 from Chhattisgarh arrived in Thiruvananthapuram as part of the programme.
“The programme’s focus is to bring in youth from tribal and remote sections and offer them the exposure they otherwise lack. The whole focus is on bringing them to the mainstream. They are mostly disconnected from the reality and outside world and this is an attempt to bring them into the mainstream and empower them to achieve more,” says Kunhammed K, state director, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, Kerala. The youth exchange programme is held every year in 15 state capitals and, in all, 3,000 students are participating in the programme this year.
20-old Sonam Tigga who hails from Gumla district says that the programme gave her a chance to get an exposure she would have otherwise not got in her village. “This literally opened my mind and I could learn a lot. It offered a peek into the culture of the state as well as see how educated and developed this part of the world is,” she said.
For Shaline Lakra, the experience was an eye-opener. “In our village, only the boys are encouraged to study and get education. There is a clear gender divide. But here there is no gender bias in education and that is very empowering to witness. In our village, they say there is no need to educate a girl. We could learn a lot from here, including the culture and how educationally forward the state is,” said Shaline.