The successful completion of a year by the LDF-led Kerala Government was marked by the initiation of numerous schemes that would act as a fillip to the state‟s development. Among them, the ‘Gothrabandhu’ programme was a scheme that caught the considerable attention of the public. Inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Kerala, Sri. Pinarayi Vijayan, this programme serves as a model for resolving the issues confronted by the Scheduled Tribes in Kerala.
The programme intends to improve the educational facilities available to the students coming from Scheduled Tribe category in Wayanad and also to equip them with a student friendly learning atmosphere. Qualified faculty would be recognised from within the community and then hired as teachers. The first phase of the programme would provide employment to 241 candidates as mentor teachers from the Scheduled Tribe category who have completed their B.Ed. or TTC.
The drop-out rates of students from Scheduled Tribe Category in the public schools of Wayanad is much higher than the state average. It is hence the need of the hour to enable the exchange of ideas in tribal languages, thereby making the learning environment hospitable for the tribal kids. The mentor teachers would act a connecting medium between the tribal hamlets and public schools. Gothrabandhu is only one among the 4 programmes that facilitate the empowerment of the Scheduled Tribes in Kerala.
There is also the ‘Gothrajeevika’ scheme that would ensure employment along with quality education. The existing skill-training programmes, mostly take place in the urban
areas and the participation of tribals in these programmes would be minimal. Scientific and practical skill training would be imparted to the socially and economically backward sections of the tribal society in places which are easily accessible for them.
Skill-training would lead to the generation of a source of income for these communities.
Free laptops would be distributed to students from Scheduled Tribe categories who are pursuing professional courses and empowering of tribal family units would be carried out with the aid of Kudumbashree Mission.
These interventions could be perceived as a very creative and novel initiative by the LDF-led government which would facilitate the representation of tribal communities in the public sphere along with retaining their identity and culture.
The schemes to ensure food and nutritional security for the tribals in Attapadi Hamlet, community kitchen, expansion of health facilities, increased educational loans, the appointment of 30 specialised doctors in Tribal Super Speciality hospitals, distribution nutritious food through Anganawadis and much more add to the achievements of LDF government during the 2006-11 tenure. The UDF government which followed didn’t ensure the continuity of these schemes and a lot of them were terminated. The Chief Minister has announced the rejuvenation of these schemes and also a solution to the major issues which hamper the progress of these communities. The Minister for Welfare
The Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Backward Classes, A K Balan has underlined the progress they have made within a year in this field. There has been a 50% increase in the funds allotted for the education of tribal students. Almost 6 lakh students coming from backward communities were provided with educational benefits. About 13000 ST students studying across 353 schools were equipped with transport facilities. 10 Model Residential Schools and a Sports School would be opened shortly. The hostel facilities in schools would be enhanced and good food & other infrastructure would be provided.
”The Government has pledged to ensure that the funds allotted are utilised in the most efficient manner. The unfair practice of middlemen stealing away their lump sum amounts would be put to a stop through constant vigilance”, said A.K Balan. The commitment of the LDF government towards the emancipation the backward sections of our society is in keeping with its election campaign one-liner- LDF will come to power and everything will be set right.