THE LITERACY MOVEMENT (ARIVOLI IYAKKAM) IN KANCHEEPURAM DISTRICT

The TamilNadu Science Forum(TNSF) Kalpakkam branch has played a vital role in the literacy movement (popularly called as 'ARIVOLI IYAKKAM') in Kancheepuram district during 1995-97. The TNSF is one of the "People's Science Movements" which had sprung up in free India. TNSF was started in the year 1980 and its activities were limited to organising hall meetings at that time. Later its activities were diversified from the inspiration obtained from the activities of the Kerala Shasthra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP). The KSSP celebrated its Silver Jubilee year in 1987 and a kala-jatha troupe comprising of social scientists, bank employees, teachers, professors from Kerala arrived at Kalpakkam enroute to the neighbouring states propagating science awareness to the masses. A warm welcome was accorded to them and a street theatre cum science play was staged in the open-air auditorium at Kalpakkam. Shri C.V.Sundaram, former Director, IGCAR gave patronage to this activity under the leadership of Dr.K.V.K.Nair of WSCL.

The year 1987, was an important mile-stone in the history of science movements in India. For the first time 26 People's Science Movements (PSMs) from all over India came together under one umbrella and organised a nation-wide "Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha" - All India People's Science March. As a part of this programme, a team of activists from IGCAR and MAPS undertook a "Science Jatha" to villages in Chengai district. Shri C.V.Sundaram and the district council member in the National Literacy Mission guided the Chengai district level activities. As an off-shoot of this event, many activists and volunteers were identified at various levels. These people became the back-bone to foster the Literacy Mission that came into being after two years. The Department of Atomic Energy played a crucial role in supporting this endeavour.

During 1990, the International Year of Literacy, a nation-wide program namely "Bharat Gyan Vigyan Jatha" was launched with the support from MHRD under the auspices of National Literacy Mission. The erstwhile director Shri S.R.Paranjpe gave patronage to this event. This event instilled confidence to take up the literacy project in Chengai-Anna district.

Subsequent to this BGVJ programme, another Jatha named "Bharat Jan Gyan Vigyan Jatha" was launched in the year 1992. It also drew overwhelming response from the public. This event helped to spot out dedicated youths and volunteers for the literacy programme at panchayat union level in Chengai-MGR district. As a preparatory ground for this activity, Dr. Placid Rodriguez presided over a kala-jatha programme organised at Kalpakkam.

The year 1995, witnessed the launching of the Literacy Movement popularly known as "Arivoli Iyakkam" in Chengai-MGR district under the stewardship of Shri.P.Ramamohana Rao, IAS, the then district collector. Dr. Placid Rodriguez, Director IGCAR and Shri M.P.Patil, Project Manager KARP gave whole hearted support to this literacy activity by deputing selected personnel to act as Central Project Co-ordinator and Area Co-ordinator in the district literacy project. With their sustained involvement in the project, around 40000 volunteers were identified to impart literacy to 5 lakh people during the first phase of this project.

Thiruvallur, at that time a part of Chengalpattu district and now a bifurcated district was adjudged as one of the best model districts for the literacy work carried out in Tamil Nadu. The IGCAR management supported the literacy programme in Kancheepuram district for more than a decade. The
Station Directors of MAPS, have also extended their help to the TNSF activities at Kalpakkam. The direction and support given by the scientists and engineers working here were particularly encouraging and well placed in record.

(R.Dhananjayan, A.Veeran and M.Jayavelu )

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