“PRABODHAN” - An initiative by Pazhassiraja College to motivate the marginalized youth in Wayanad to pursue Higher Education
PRABODHAN is a multi-pronged initiative by Pazhassiraja College started in the year 2016, with the ultimate aim of enabling the tribal youth and other marginalized societies to tap higher education opportunities and to shape a suitable career. This initiative was based on the findings of Pilot study conducted by a team of researchers in the institution in three nearby tribal settlements namely, Cheeyambam Colony, Devargadda Colony, and Yogimoola Colony in July 2015 to identify the various concerns faced by the Tribal Community and also to examine the reasons for school dropouts. Besides this, the researchers tested the awareness of Tribal Community about the career opportunities after completing their education.
Many a times, the marginalized societies are shunned away from acquiring higher learning options and that makes them incompetent to attempt at the emerging opportunities at the regional, national, and international levels. Lack of awareness on how to tap higher learning options has been a major reason behind the situation. Motivational gap, along with apathy too deter the people of lower strata of the societies from attaining the educational options that can take them to win laurels in life. Progress of individuals eventually leads to societal progress and that can contribute to strengthening the nations to remain competitive.
Wayanad district, where Pazhassiraja College is situated, is one of the most backward districts in the state and almost 20 percent of the population is composed of different types of tribal people. The tribal societies are still facing challenges to match with the progress. The ratio of young generation in the Tribal Community pursuing Higher Education was found to be less. Lack of awareness, interest, and motivation were found to be the major reasons for this. Hence, it is of paramount importance to provide adequate measures to bring them up in order to find out Higher Education and Career opportunities. The institution took the initiative to launch an integrated program for creating awareness on higher education options and for generating interest among such people to pursue higher education. This initiative also aims to motivate Tribal Community to contribute a share in societal progress of tribal population in the district and in the state, at large.
The primary target groups consist of the youth groups belonging to tribal societies in and around Pulpally. As per the records maintained by the Pulpally Grama Panchayath, a total of 136 Scheduled Tribal Colonies in the Grama panchayath. Initially, those who have completed the 10th class or higher levels are targeted to impart various learning or awareness programs. Awareness programs and motivation classes are conducted in the institution also. A facilitation centre near the main entrance of the college is set up to provide information related to Career Options and Higher Education opportunities for the Tribal Community. The Tribal Community can avail the service of the Career and Psychological Counsellor of the college either directly through centre or over mobile phone. The centre is open on all the working days.
A team of academicians from the college are involved in imparting different types of programs such as seminars, lectures, awareness campaigns and sensitization programs. Members of the team visit the identified centres/locations in regular intervals. The programmes are undertaken with the assistance and support of the Members of Grama Panchayath and the Tribal promoters of each colony. Students of the institution also engage in conducting programmes for the Tribal community by associating with the leading NGO called Shreyas, Sulthanbathery (we have signed an MOU with Shreyas to associate our students in conducting various social service initiatives)
Invited experts from different fields take sessions to motivate and educate the participants to target the higher education and career options. Motivational sessions are engaged alternatively. The online module of the Prabodhan is also introduced as a separate platform and is integrated with the college website for providing information on various career options, scholarships, higher education options, reservation details, and tips to gain success. The same is prepared in Malayalam for easy understanding. A response form is integrated in the website along with the phone number and email id of the College Counsellor.
This innovative initiative has been taking place since 2016. Classes could be arranged in Tribal Colonies with the help of the Grama Panchayath ward members and tribal activity coordinators. Regular interaction with the audience from those colonies could be ensured.
The initiative is successful in instigating the spirits among the student communities belonging to tribal community to come up and pursue higher education as well as in competing hard in getting a career. Institution already inspired more than 100 students from the tribal colonies located nearby. A survey was conducted among 30 participants in November 2021 to assess the effectiveness of the programme and the result indicates that the tribal community is benefited with this initiative.
The practice has been encountered by two major issues:
“SAMRIDHI” - THE COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT PROGRAMME TO UPLIFT AGRICULTURE AND ALLIED SECTORS THROUGH LEARNING, MOTIVATION AND DIRECT ACTIONS TO RECUPERATE THE LOST AGRICULTURAL PROSPERITY IN WAYANAD
A multi-dimensional programme designed to equip the community around the institution to be a model and to create awareness among the society about the need and significance of reclaiming the lost prosperity of Wayanad in the field of Agriculture. Equip the community, particularly the youth in identifying arable and fallow lands in and around the institution to practice agriculture.
With more than 60% of population directly or indirectly depending upon Agriculture as a way of livelihood, India became an agrarian nation. The state of Kerala despite being a consumer state still had a very rich culture in agriculture and allied matters. A high majority (90 %) of people in Wayanad are either farmers or directly or indirectly engaged in agriculture or related activities. Agriculture has neither enabled them for mobility to higher standard of living nor to lead a decent life due to factors like failure of crops, price fall of agricultural products, raw materials costs etc. There is no value addition for the products at farmer level due to the lack of technology and support at the knowledge level. Farmers are burdened with financial liability from banks and other money lenders leading to mass suicides.
Taking this serious issue as a challenge, the institution initiated an integrated multi-dimensional programme which seeks to create interest among the young generation and to impart the basic agricultural knowledge and technical support. The programme also intends to find arable and fallow lands in and around the institution for practicing the art of agriculture through Bio-farming practices. This practice creates a band-wagon of agricultural prosperity and wetland conservation to which the youth is following now.
The primary target group of the programme was the people who had agricultural practices previously. Students under the leadership of faculty, particularly from the vocational studies department, which was started in 2018-19, gave knowledge as well as technical support to all the interested people in the society.
An expert panel consisting of agricultural academicians and renowned agriculture practitioners believed that reclamation of wetlands and anaerobic paddy lands could counter the global climate change problems and thereby creating a sustainable ecosystem. The team identified wetland paddy fallows around the college and as a pilot initiative, an area of one hectare was selected for paddy cultivation encompassing the traditional and indigenous ways of wetland cultivation.
A renowned germplasm conservator Sri. Cheruvayal Raman was invited to orient and motivate the team of young individuals. The expert had a very rich collection of traditional paddy germplasm that are indigenous to the land of Wayanad. He could bring a sense of need within the youth to carryout agriculture and preserve wetland for sustainability. Sooner the team decided to grow a traditional rice variety in the wetlands. All the traditional and indigenous field practices were employed along with necessary modern mechanization. A well maintained wetland system which sustained a healthy wetland ecosystem was made into reality by the team and it could inspire more people. Apart from paddy cultivation, the team of skilled youth cultivated different vegetables in 1.5 acres of land. The unused land within the campus was selected and prepared for cultivation. This brought immense attention of the student community, and the young people in and around the institution which ultimately made the effort successful.
First of all, the college expert council created a team comprising of the youth in and around the campus, school students nearby and the interested people within the immediate surrounding. The institution functioned as a facilitator by providing a platform for theoretical and technical support. The team was motivated by expert talks and also the selected youth were given hands-on experience in the different farming methods, indigenous practices and wetland conservation practices. The interested youth could gain in-depth knowledge about the geographical and edaphic specialties of Wayanad and the various seasons associated with paddy cultivation within the state and district. The unutilized rice fallow was converted into a wetland ecosystem and subsequently the fallow could be changed into an arable wetland. The institution could produce 1.5 tonnes of paddy as yield of the cultivation. The whole yield was sold to the Civil Supplies Corporation, Kerala. The institution shared a space along with the Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare Department in bringing the school children to the wetland paddy field which was named by the Kerala Government as ‘Padam Onnu Padathekku’.
The college team cultivated a wide variety of vegetables within the campus with the support given by the Pulpally Krishibhavan in association with a scheme named ‘Jeevani 2019-20’. The team effort converted a fallow land to a highly productive vegetable garden. Nearly 300 kg of vegetables obtained from the cultivation was made available to the Community Kitchen run by the three nearby Panchayats such as Pulpally, Mullankolli and Poothadi free of cost at regular intervals, which fed the poor and isolated people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this the institution could spread a strong message of humanitarian act which is ultimately the purpose of education.
The team experienced certain problems like timely actions as it was found very difficult to arrange human resource amidst the tight academic schedule. For every agricultural endeavour to succeed, it requires steady backup of land, labor and capital. The college level expert committee provided assistance in arranging suitable land and other inputs involving the actions of immediate neighbourhood community. The institution could overcome the problem of timely availability of human resources by forming small Self-Help Groups (SHG) from the complete team and advised them to act accordingly.