Kerala all-woman network forays into higher education

Monday, Jun 22, 2015,19:02 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Thiruvananthapuram | After making its presence felt in various fields from pickle making to IT business, Kerala’s woman self-help group Kudumbashree is stepping into the higher education sector by setting up a community college in the state. The flagship initiative is to be implemented with the support of Mumbai-based prestigious Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
Eligible members of the all-woman network could avail a post-graduate diploma in Development Praxis free of cost under the programme, Kudumbashree officials said. The fee of a similar one year-course would cost about Rs one to Rs 1.5 lakh at TISS, they said. The community college initiative is a milestone in the history of Kudumbashree. We have a number of educated members and this project will help them expand the horizons of their dreams of higher education, Kudumbashree Executive Director K B Valsala Kumari said.
TISS, one of the pioneers in the education of social sciences, would provide all technical and other back support for the programme. The syllabus and study materials of the course, which comprises nine months’ classroom study and one month’s field work, are drawn out by professors and TISS experts, she said. Kudumbashree members with at least two years’ experience in the mission and the daughters of those members who are five years’ old in the network can apply for the course.
The selection will be made through a multi-level process, comprising an entrance test, group discussion and interview. An advisory committee, in which education experts and social activists of high repute are members, would monitor the execution of the programme.
The students could stay at TISS’s campus at Mumbai for one month and pursue their study and training as part of the programme. They would also get chance for doing one month internship at Kudumbashree’s district-level offices in the state.
Those who successfully complete the course would get the diploma certificate of TISS. The thesis, prepared by students as part of the programme, will be compiled and published as a book later.
The official said that one of the programme’s objectives was to mould a group of community researchers who can objectively evaluate and document various activities of the 17-year-old Kudumbashree.
TISS certificate would also help place Kudumbashree volunteers in good positions in the development field, the official said. The course is designed in the way of ensuring them jobs in academic and research institutions and in NGOs which are focusing in social research. They will also get good opportunities in Kudumbashree’s various documentation programmes and other projects, Valsala Kumari said. The classes for the first batch would begin at Loyola College of Social Sciences near here next month, the sources added.
Kudumbashree is the poverty alleviation programme of the Kerala government, launched in 1998. It was conceptualised as a movement to eradicate poverty through empowering women and community action under Local Self Governments.
The programme has over 37 lakh members and covers more than 50 per cent of households in Kerala.