The Samagra Shiksha has 48 Ooru Vidya Kendrams across the State at present.
The Samagra Shiksha, Kerala, (SSK) has directed that its local resource centres in tribal hamlets called ‘Ooru Vidya Kendrams’ be opened in consultation with respective local bodies if the COVID-19 situation there is conducive to provide learning support to tribal children.
The Samagra Shiksha has 48 Ooru Vidya Kendrams across the State at present. These centres were started not only to address the learning backwardness of tribal children but also improve their socialisation outside their habitat.
This lack of socialisation makes them reluctant to attend school. Tribal parents also go for work early in the morning, leaving behind children who may skip school. Seasonal migration by children to work during harvest and access to money also contribute to the high rate of absenteeism.
When schools are open, the education volunteers posted by the Samagra in the hamlets, often those who have completed SSLC or higher secondary education and belonging to the tribe itself, go around visiting houses in the morning to ensure children have gone for school, and impress the need for schooling on parents.
In the evening, the volunteers call children to the Vidya Kendrams and provide learning support, and encourage activities that promote socialisation. During the pandemic, learning support continues to be provided at these centres, though household visits in the morning to prevent absenteeism have been put on hold.
Ten children are summoned to the centres in the evening to provide academic support. If there are more than 10, another centre is opened, says C. Radhakrishnan, State Programme Officer (Innovations), SSK.
The centres were functioning since October last year till the second wave-induced lockdown. Now, that the restrictions are being eased, the Samagra Shiksha has directed that these be reopened as per the local COVID-19 situation in compliance with health protocols.
More time can be spent by the children at these centres as they are relatively free during the day. In Wayanad, all centres have been equipped with television so that the children can attend digital classes there.
The volunteers also help the students with assignments related to their classes. Monitoring committees in the hamlets comprising the head of settlement, ward member, ITDP officials, and so on will also have a say in the arrangement.
Mr. Radhakrishnan says many districts have been demanding opening of more Ooru Vidya Kendrams that focus primarily on checking absenteeism and reducing learning backwardness of tribal children.
A few hamlets have tribal learning centres that focus on reducing the number of dropouts among schoolchildren. Wayanad, Idukki, and Malappuram are the districts where these learning centres function.
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