KOZHIKODE: “I can now enjoy classes on television. After that, I can catch crabs along with my friends from the Kabini river, and watch jumbos coming near the fence and indulge in various games in my own ooru. Besides, I can speak freely in my own native language,” beams Karthik of Vettathur tribal hamlet in Wayanad.
A class 8 student, Karthik Chandran’s opinion about e-learning was shared by all the other 21 students of this hamlet, which is completely isolated from the outer world, as it is situated inside Chekkadi forest near Karnataka border of Bairakuppa in Pulpally.
They all now watch classes on KITE Victers channel at the special training centre set up by the Block Resource Centre (BRC) in their hamlet.
If not for coronavirus, these Kattunayaka and Paniya kids have had to walk daily one kilometre through the forest to catch the vehicle arranged by the tribal development department, which will take them to Perikallur GHS School.
“It is a difficult task to reach school. In school, we sit amid other students and use Malayalam language to communicate. We cannot speak in our tribal language to other students,” says Ragi Raju, a Plus-Two student.
Maya Saji, the BRC volunteer who accompanies them daily to the school, is also relieved now. “I have to reach the hamlet at 7.30am to make the students ready.
Many of them would not have even woken up. Some students studying in lower classes show reluctance.
They want to go for fishing and roam inside the forest or watch the movement of elephants if they have appeared nearby. It is a big task to woo them to school,” says Maya.
If the tribal students feel any uneasiness amid other students in the classroom, which is not uncommon, Maya has to wait at the school to take care of them.
“After e-learning was launched, there have been no such issues. They are attracted towards TV, new teachers, classes using colourful teaching aids, songs etc. I don’t need to pester them now,” added Maya, who has been a volunteer for the last 15 years.
The hamlet has 64 people belonging to 18 families. The TV set was brought to the hamlet by Chethalayam forest range officials.
According to A C Cheriyan, district officer, Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP), Wayanad, e-learning has become a boon for tribal students.
“The classes on KITE Victers led by selected teachers across the state are excellent. We can bring quality education to remote tribal hamlets through just a TV and a DTH connection without separating them from their cultural background,” he says.
To aid the same, Samagra Shiksha Kerala (SSK) is now all set to commence e-learning in tribal languages such as Paniya, Kuruma, Kurichya, Oorali, Adiya and Kattunayaka.