As many as 30 children from the Cholanaikkan community, a particularly vulnerable tribal group residing deep in the Nilambur forests in Malappuram, will soon start attending classes without leaving familiar surroundings.
The children, including 13 who have never been to school, are the first beneficiaries of a pilot project taken up by the Samagra Siksha Kerala (SSK) to provide habitat-based education for children from marginalized communities.
Named ‘Padhanaveedu’, the project is expected to prepare the children for continuing education at model residential schools at a later stage.
A study conducted by the SSK had found that the children were not attending public schools established for them, primarily because the community preferred to remain aloof from the mainstream and preserve their language, culture and lifestyle.
The SSK has prepared textbooks in the tribal language with pictorial depictions of their habitat, and a teacher has been handpicked from the community itself to make the children feel at ease. The study center has been established taking into consideration the distance between the tribal settlements in the forest and the difficulty in traversing the terrain.
An SSK team headed by its Director AR Supriya visited the settlements along with tribal chieftains, Scheduled Tribe promoters, parents and children before preparing the training program.
Inaugurating the project on Friday, General Education Minister V.Sivankutty said the government was chalking out a special program to provide education for marginalized communities. He said Padhanaveedu would soon be extended to other tribal belts in the state.