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Informal literacy scheme takes off

Special Correspondent

Total primary education programme for school dropouts in 15-50 age group

KOCHI: Education and Cultural Affairs Minister M.A. Baby on Sunday launched a new informal literacy programme which he claimed would gather momentum to become a mass movement in line with the highly successful ‘literacy movement' of the past.

The initiative, ‘Athulyam', is a total primary education programme which has a series of linked schemes that aim to re-educate primary school dropouts.

The first step of Athulyam is the ‘fourth grade equivalency' programme comprising 100 hours of study that will include introduction to computers and occupational skill development.

Those who had dropped out of school before finishing the fourth grade and in the age group of 15-50 will be enrolled in the programme.

Mr. Baby told newspersons that there were some three lakh such school dropouts in the State. Initially, the programme would focus on one most backward panchayat in each of the 140 Assembly constituencies.

The programme would be run by LEAP (Lifelong Education and Awareness Programme) Mission, formerly the Literacy Mission. This is the first programme being launched by LEAP after the name change.

Mr. Baby said this was the first time that such a novel literacy programme was being launched in the country. It would get government financial support of Rs.5 crore. The three-tier Panchayati Raj set-up and NGOs would help in running the programme.

Gun salute

Answering a question, Mr. Baby said the government would study if the gun salute and other formal government ceremonies as part of the State funeral for important persons needed changes. He would welcome a public debate on the issue. The delay in holding the State funeral as well as the gun salute given to the body of the anti-establishment poet A. Ayyappan had evoked widespread protest.

The Minister clarified that it was not the Cultural Affairs Department but the General Administration Department that took decisions regarding State funerals. The Minister said the government would continue to hold talks with private college managements regarding whether eligibility tests should be made compulsory for college and plus two teachers.

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