Comparing to any other communites in India Tribal communities faces large level disparity in many fields. The socio-economic conditions, heath related aspects and educational attainment are very low in the tribal areas even though they are not an ignorable group in India. According to the recent census report 2001, 8% of the total population in India is tribes. Giving definitions to the tribe is complex task. As each of tribe in different states have unique features, it is difficult to give a common definition.
Mishra (2002) defines Scheduled tribes as people who (i) claim themselves as indigenous to the soil; (ii) generally inhabit forest and hilly regions; (iii) largely pursue a subsistence level economy; (iv) have great regard for traditional religious and cultural practices; (v) believe in common ancestry and (vi) have strong group ties. On the basis of this definition we can analyze that, a special category of population living in isolated areas like forests and hills are tribes, if they keep a unique culture and behavior pattern. But the term tribe or tribal is not defined anywhere in the Constitution although according to the Article 342, ST represents the tribe or tribal communities that are notified by the President of India.
The tribes in India have unique living pattern and cultural practices. Hence, they cannot be called as a part of the traditional Hindu caste structure. STs in India are more like the “indigenous” or “native people” in other parts of the world. Traditionally in most of the parts of India they are referred as vanavasis, adivasis or tribes. More than 573 Scheduled Tribes are living various parts of India. They have their own dialects, rituals and rich traditions. The largest number of tribal population in India is located in Madhyapradesh, Orissa and Bihar.
Tribes in Kerala account for only 1.1% of the total population. Most of the tribal population in Kerala lives in Palakkad, Idukki and Waynad. These districts belong to the backward districts of Kerala. In Kerala 35 communities are identified as tribal according to the constitution of India. Tribal groups named Irula, paniya, maratti, Malayarayar, Kurumas, Kanikkar, Ulladan, Muthuvan are considered as numerically important. Most of the tribal communities in Kerala depend on natural resource and forest as their income sources. The tribe in Kerala lives in poverty, exploitation, ill health and they are alienated from the mainstream of the society. They are considered as socially backward and deprived sections.
Education and Tribal communities in Kerala
Even if the state has maintained a status-quo with regard to educational and social wellbeing, the tribes in Kerala have failed to achieve this. They live with illiteracy, low level of school enrolment and educational attainment. Comparing to other categories in Kerala the educational attainment of tribal communities is in slow pace.
Table:1 Literacy Rate Among STs in Kerala 1971-1991
The slow pace of education among tribal groups in Kerala is may be due to their peculiar nature of habitation. Majority of the tribes are living in remote areas and availability of educational institutions is not common. Along with that, issues like poverty, alcoholism, and domestic violence create a situation and which curtails the atmosphere for studies.
Continuing Education Programme
After the successful implementation of the national Literacy Mission’s Total Literacy Campaign (1988) and Post literacy campaign of 1990s, government of India implemented continuing education pogramme in 1995. It provides a learning continuum to the efforts of the Total Literacy and Post Literacy Programmes. Under the Scheme, the main thrust is given to the setting up of Continuing Education Centers (CECs) which will function as the focal points for providing learning opportunities such as library, reading room, learning centre, training centre, information centre, charcha mandal, development centre, cultural centre, sports centre and other individual interest promotion programme centres.Following are the Objectives of continuing education. Programmes in India.
Equivalency Programme (EP). Designed as an alternative education programme equivalent to existing formal, general or vocational education.
Quality of Life Improvement Programme (QLIP). Which aims to equip learners and the community with essential knowledge, attitude, values and skills to raise their standard of living.
Income Generating Programme (IGP). Where the participants acquire or upgrade their vocational skills and take up income-generating activities.
Individual Interest Promotion Programme (IIPP). To provide opportunities for learners to participate and learn about their individually chosen social, cultural, spiritual, health, physical and artistic interests.
Continuing Education and Tribal Communities In Kerala
In Kerala the Continuing education scheme was implemented in the year 1998 with higher aspiration. A baseline study conducted in Kerala reported that there are over 16 lakh neo literates and schools drop-outs in Kerala who are willing to make use of the different programmmes of CEP. A study conducted by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) reported that ‘except in CECs in Kerala beneficiaries remain deprived of vocational skill training. And CE centers have not implemented all the innovative programmes. The study again discuss that Kerala has taken a lead but SHGs here too are yet to come up in active way. In connection to the involvement of preraks (instructors) the study reveals that only in Kerala have the Preraks, bothat CECs and NCECs been devoting full time for centre’s work. In the other states they have devoted not more than three to four hours. The study stated that only in Kerala all beneficiaries reported they read newspaper ‘always’. Related to the implementation of the CEP in tribal areas a very limited CEC were set –up.
Availability of literature on education and development of tribal is minimal. In our country, known for the extreme poverty of the masses, the tribals constitute the core of the poor. Poverty, poor health and sanitation, illiteracy and other social problems among the tribals are exerting a dragging effect on the Indian economy. It affects the social development also. Roy Burman (1978)' speaking about the tribal integration process, points out that, present context integration means four things: independent thinking, democratic style of life, secularism and planned economy. These are urgently needed for the tribals to integrate themselves into the mainstream.
Bhujendra Nath Panda (1996)," has made sincere attempt to study the personality adjustment, mental health, attitude and academic achievements of more accultured Saora Tribes. Through an in-depth analysis, this book gives practical suggestions to teachers, and policy makers to realize the pros and cons of tribal acculturization. Thus the findings have obvious implication for policy makers in tribal education and development. P.C. Jain (1999) gives some insight into the Bhils and Minas of Rajasthan. The objective of the study is to find out the development attained by these two tribal groups. The development is through various sources. In the First Year Plan, the State Government is committed on constitutional ground to bring the tribals at par with the other tribal groups who are economically and socially advanced.
The tribals of Kerala are living at different stages of economic development. Some still are in the stage of hunting and food gathering and leading a nomadic life. Some are still practicing shifting cultivation and a few are settled agriculturist. Anantha Krishna Iyer published 'The Travancore Tribes and Castes' in three volumes. Iyer concentrated his study on the hill tribes which were fast dying out or were deteriorated. In the first volume (1937), he had discussed seven hill tribes, namely the Kanikkaran, the Mala Kurumbans, the Malapandaram, Malapulaya, the Malavetan, the Malayarayan and the Maison. In a later study (1961) he described the hill tribes of Kerala as pre-dravidian. M. Kunhaman (1982) in his book examined the inter- regional variations in the level of socio-economic development of the hill tribe of Kerala and the underlying causes.
Among Tribal communities school dropout is common phenomena. Due to indebtedness, poverty, diseases, vulnerable family conditions and lack of motivation the tribal people stop their education half way. As it is the situation, the continuing education programme implemented by the government of Kerala have made special attention to focus on eliminating the education related issues in marginalized communities like SCs and STs. Along with that the CEP evolved by the National Literacy Mission and Sate Literacy Mission mainly focusing on bringing qualitative changes among the beneficiaries of the CEP. In this context researcher developed a rational to study the CEP and its implementation in Tribal areas on the basis of the following research questions or objectives.
Sampling and Data Collection procedure
The researcher selected two wards that comes under the CEC. 60 samples were selected by adopting sample random sampling method. The researcher selected the sampling frame by using the attendance register of the CEC and selected the samples by using lottery method. Researcher collected data through semi-structured interview schedule the collected data was analyzed with the help of SPSS.
Results and Discussions.
The study reveals that observing participants of the CEP in tribal area, majority of them belong to the age group of 41-50 (41.7%). 30% of the respondents belongs to the 31-40 age category and 23.3% belongs to 50 and above age category.. It reveals that the CEP provided a reopening to the Kanikkar Tribes in Vithura Panchayath to continues education improvement of them through CEP. Only 5% belongs to the age group of 21-30. These figures reveal that those who discontinued the study have got benefit from the CEP and among the younger generation the lapsing of education is minimal.
The data collected by the researcher in connection to the land ownership of Tribes reveals that majority of them (48.3%) hold more than 1 Acre and above. A portion (31.7%) of them has 10-20 cent of land. Holding relatively a higher portion of land by tribe is common feature in Kerala. When we compare them with SCs and STs, living nearer to the mainstream society, the tribes who are living in interior areas are more accessible to land. But analyzing the income from land, most of the tribal people told that they are getting income from the land. But in most of the cases they are not cultivating in the land. Instead, they tried to make income through giving the land for lease.
Saving and Investment habits among tribal communities are very less or it is very difficult observe. However, in the case of the Kanikkar Tribes, the data reveals that, 52.4% have thrifts and 38% have bank savings. It is quiet observable that the SHG movement implemented by different organizations including government and NGOs developed a kind of saving habit in the society. This is visible in the case Kanikkar also.
With regard to assessing the participation of Kanikkar Tribes in CEP, 55% of the respondents revealed that they have been participating in the programme from last two years. 45% of them are involved in the CEP for more than one year. The CEP was implemented in the state in 1996 and the programme was launched in Vithura Panchayath only in 2000. This means that majority of the participants are closely linked and involved in the CEP from its inception stage in the Panchayath.
The success of a programme in a community always depends on the propaganda and leadership involved in it. The data related to the reasons and the influencing force behind the respondants participation in CEP, 23.3% respondents said that the instructor or prerak played very important role. along with prerak ; community leaders, friends and community also played remarkable role. Here it means that community, the general and the tribal community members, had played a pivotal role in creating awareness about the need of the education, especially the need of continuing education. Along with that friends, local leaders, (3% each) educated members also had a key role in attracting tribal community towards CEP. It is observed that the cooperation between a tribal community and general community is depending on the type of tribe, their general orientation towards society and the approach the local community hold towards the tribes.
The data on regular participation of the tribal community in CEP activities provides the information that , only 41.7% regularly attended the activities under CEP. 58.3% failed to ensure regular participation. It may be due to various reasons like work (26%), objection from family members (11.4%), lack of interest and disease, house hold activities ( 17.14% each). Most of these factors can be analyzed as common situation in any socially backward community in Kerala.
Out of the tribal participated in CEP 10% of the respondents passed the equivalency test for 4th standard.
Examining the data on activities undertaken under CEP among the Kanikkar Tribes in Vithura Gramapanchayth 50% revealed that CEC organized teaching, awareness sessions, family meeting. Another 50% revealed that teenage club promotion, career guidance progrmmes were initiated under the scheme.
Assessing the impact of the CEP 60% of the respondent shared that CEP was highly influential among them. 35% revealed that the influence was a moderate one. Only 3% revealed that the influence was low. The expression of high, moderate, low impact of CEP is basically depending on the individual and their characteristics. Those who have not regularly attended the CEP have got low information about CEP.
Changes occurred after their involvement in CEP
The above table gives the type of change occurred among the Kanikkar Tribes due to the CEP programme. It discuss that all of the respondents have occupied some kind of qualitative and constructive change in their life due to the involvement in CEP.in their behavior, especially a kind of bad habit and demoralized life style was occurred, their awareness level about health was reframed through the session undertaken in CEP and in Continuing Education Centers. One of the notable changes they felt is that their consideration with regard to their children and their education was improved. Saving habit was improved in certain respondent. Family clashes especially due to alcohol and quarrel within the family and among neighbors related to silly issues are common in tribal areas, it’s part of their life. But the data reveals that reduction in family clashes was happened in many of the families. Most of the respondent said that they had qualitative change after joining CEP
Suggestions and concluding remarks
On the basis of the available literature and the data analysis it can be concluded that continuing education programs in Kerala have implemented innovative streams in tribal areas. The programmes implemented in tribal areas brought a constructive change among the tribes. But regular monitoring system and its intervention is required in CEP. Along with that fund allocation shall be made effective to ensure the instructors participation and to implement different schemes under CEP. Training programmes to the Tribal groups and to the prerks have to be implemented for making CEP in tribal area a unique one. Establishing more CECs in tribal areas is very essential to strengthen the community.
Lecturer in Social Work, LISSAH, Kozhikkode, Kerala.