KOZHIKODE: A dalit colony in literate Kerala has produced its first BEd degree-holder in its 75th year of existence. She is K. Vismaya of Kongapadam in Palakkad district, who, along with her family, had fought many odds on her way. She is a beneficiary of ‘Ente Kongapadam,' a special tuition class programme launched by C.D. Sajith Kumar at the colony five years back, which kindled the spirit of education among the residents. So far, 31 students have passed SSLC, six Plus-Two and many have gone for BEd and ITI courses.
“But for the tuition class, I would not have even passed SSLC," says Vismaya. While doing BEd, she too took classes for the students under the programme. After Vismaya passed Plus-Two, her father K. Guruvayoorappan took her to a government nursing college at Malampuzha. He said, "the principal spoke in English which I didn't follow. I requested her to speak in Malayalam. But her response was how the girl could study without knowing English. There were many such instances where we didn't get a helping hand," said Guruvayoorappan, a welder by profession.
Vismaya then joined for BSc physics and later BEd. Sajith Kumar said dalits have to face humiliation and insult for daring to study. Sajith had come to Kongapadam to do BTech at the NSS Engineering College in the 90s and the pathetic condition of the colony people prompted him to sow the seeds of education among them.
“The boys dropping out of schools went for labour work and girls for household chores. That was Kongapadam five years back," said Sajith. However, the tuition classes had to be terminated due to the local resistance at the behest of CPM. "The CPM local leadership is choking the Kongapadam dalit education model for fear of losing its vote bank. So, we are temporarily stopping the class," said Sajith Kumar. Interestingly, the same Kongapadam model had won accolades at the Loka Kerala Sabha (LKS) organised by the LDF government in January.