Fabric Painting Training at Nedugandam, Idukki

Course: Fabric Painting 
Duration: 10 days
Total number of Participants: 25
Gender: Female
Educational Qualifications: Semi-literate
Number of first time computer users: 18

Idukki has approximately 11,500 scheduled tribe families. Most live in the remote hills and deep interiors of thick forests. The main occupation is agriculture ‐ cultivation of plantation crops like tea, coffee, rubber, coconut etc. Most tribal people lend their farm and produce to the rich and do manual labour in their own plots. Some also collect forest products and breed cattle. While a few tribes are open to socio‐economic change, most prefer to follow their hereditary customs and traditions. With the advent of modernization and the ban on deforestation by the government, their traditional dwelling places were encroached upon and they were forced out of their land and customs. Now they live in Government allotted plots and try to eke out a living under the circumstances.

As is seen with most socio‐economically challenged segments of society, there is fair amount of addiction to liquor and other intoxicants that proves a further challenge to development. Among other problems, hygiene standards are low, most families do not have a stable dwelling place or facilities for basic needs, and their literacy rate is far below the national average. Their poverty and illiteracy makes them an easy target for exploitation.

Modern civilization has made paupers of the tribals who once held kinship with the kingdom of Nature. There is no money to send the reluctant children to schools, no money to cure the expensive illnesses brought on by liquor and drug addiction, no solace for the overworked women who are ill‐treated by their husbands – demanding more and more money to satiate their cravings. The men stand by and watch the women work, and then take away the money.

In October 2009, the Sakshat Amrita Vocational Education (SAVE)Project launched its pilot phase and deployed the media-enhanced vocational course on fabric painting. The students consisted of 25 women (all with rudimentary literacy skills) residing in the rural district of Idukki, Kerala. While nearly all of the participants were first time computer users, post-course evaluations revealed a unanimous feeling of comfort with the technology and application. The main objective of this preliminary study was to assess the usability of the application among a population with depressed education levels and first time computer users.

While 62 percent of the participants were unemployed at the time of the pilot study, 90 percent felt optimistic that completion of the course would help increase their job prospects. 86 percent of the participants qualified as functioning in life with poor literacy skills and those with high school as the highest achieved level of education.While 62 percent were unemployed at the time of the pilot, 90 percent felt optimistic that completion of the course would help increase their job prospects.

Nedugandam, Idukki District, Kerala, October 2009

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