Why this village in Kerala aims to achieve 100% literacy in Hindi?

  • A village in Kerala is aiming to achieve 100% literacy in Hindi language by next Republic Day

Livemint
First Published23 Oct 2022, 08:00 PM IST
People attend a class to learn Hindi as part of an initiative by a panchayat to achieve 100 per cent Hindi literacy
People attend a class to learn Hindi as part of an initiative by a panchayat to achieve 100 per cent Hindi literacy(PTI)

Currently, the whole country is debating over the issue of language hegemony and ‘imposition of Hindi’ with some states aggressively asserting other Indian languages over Hindi. Kerala is one such state, ruled by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which is thwarting any attempt by the Central Government to ‘impose’ the Hindi language.

But, amidst all the discussions and debates, the people of a small village in Kerala seem to understand the importance of being multilingual and the sizeable migrant population of the village is pushing people to learn Hindi.

The Congress-ruled civic body of the Chellanur village panchayat has set an objective to declare the panchayat as the first complete Hindi literate panchayat in Kerala and probably the first in south India, by Republic Day next year.

The initiative took off long before a Parliamentary panel recommended making Hindi the medium of instruction in higher education institutions.

Septuagenarian Janaki Amma (72) is loving learning Hindi and is working really hard to learn the language. 'Ek tandhi andheri raat sadak pe ja raha hai" (going down the road on a cold dark night) she excitedly repeats what her instructor taught her.

Like Janaki, hundreds of villagers from different ages, gender and educational backgrounds are learning Hindi to overcome the language barrier. Nousheer P P, the President of Panchayat informed that the initiative aims to teach Hindi to every villager aged between 20-70.

"There is no connection between our project and the recent controversy regarding Hindi. The conceptualization and other basic works of the project began last year. Ahead of the launch, a survey was conducted to identify those who are not well-versed in Hindi and those who are interested to learn the language," he told PTI.

He also informed that to train the aspiring learners, a series of workshops were held, and an expert panel of instructors was formed from the village panchayat itself. In addition to Hindi teachers, ex-military personnel, Gulf returnees, and homemakers who are fluent in the language were identified and included in the panel.

"With the support of the Hindi teachers of the village schools, a module of teaching and study materials was prepared. Thus, the Hindi study classes began in all the 21 wards of the panchayat using these study materials and instructors," the panchayat president explained.

The time between weekly meetings of the all-women network "Kudumbashree" or the time during lunch or tea break is also utilized in the learning of the Hindi language. Public places, houses, and common courtyards are regularly used to impart knowledge of the language.

"The response from the public was beyond words. Though we targeted people up to age 70 only, even people aged 77 and 78 years are part of our project now. For people like Janaki Amma, the learning gave a revived enthusiasm and energy," Nousheer added.

"I had to stop my studies at fifth standard. After that, now I am learning again. This is really good... They are teaching us the necessary words and sentences we can use in daily life. My grandchild, a Plus Two student, also attends the class at times," Janaki Amma told PTI.

Sasikumar, Panchayat Saksharatha Prerak, stated that an organizational committee was formed in the beginning, with members from various walks of life, including leaders of political parties.

"According to the door-to-door survey we conducted, over 9,000 persons were unable to write Hindi. Nearly the same number of villagers could not read the language and over 15,000 people do not know how to speak in the rashtra bhasha (national language)," he said.

The majority of survey respondents requested that, in addition to reading and writing, they also want training to polish their speaking skills, as communication with migrant workers is a major issue. The Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) block resource center, and the Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha all offered their full support and assistance to the initiative.

"As a pilot program, the first class was conducted at the eighth ward of the panchayat on August 15. Based on the feedback from there, classes began in other wards in the later days. At present, 94-96 classes are being held in all wards of the panchayat," Sasikumar, also the panchayat coordinator of the program explained.

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First Published:23 Oct 2022, 08:00 PM IST
HomeNewsIndiaWhy this village in Kerala aims to achieve 100% literacy in Hindi?

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