KOCHI: “Kurach kurach”, said Jahirul Islam, a migrant labourer from Assam, when asked if he can speak Malayalam. Though he has been in Kerala for the past four years, the smile on his face is a proof of the fact that he feels at home here.
On Sunday (may 13, 2018), Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority (KSLMA) conducted the first exam in Perumbavoor for 500 migrant labourers like Jahirul as part of ‘Changathi’ literacy programme for migrant labourers that was rolled out on Independence Day last year.The labourers, who mainly hail from West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam, assembled at 10 plywood factories in and around Perumbavoor town to write the exam. Most of the labourers work in the same factories during weekdays. The classes were conducted on Sundays for the past 10 months.
“The classes have helped me in understanding Malayalam. This has helped in communication at work, in market and bank. Writing and reading is still a bit difficult,” said Abdul Aziz, a labourer from West Bengal.The labourers were not afraid of the exam. The fact that most of them have not had any formal education could be a reason for this. After the question papers were distributed, they eagerly sat down to write the answers, even though many couldn’t understand a word. “The main problem is that many people who regularly attended the classes have now gone home. Only 20% who are writing the exam today have attended the classes,” said Tiny Vijayan, a teacher conducting the weekly classes