Kerala community colleges to empower women

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 7 (IANS): The Kerala government's women empowerment project Kudumbashree is launching four community colleges for technical education in the state, an official said here Thursday.

Launched in 1998 for wiping out poverty from the state through concerted community action under the leadership of local self governments, Kudumbashree is today one of the largest women empowerment projects in the country. The programme has 40.54 lakh members and covers more than 50 percent of the households in Kerala.

The first community college would be launched here next Thursday when a tie up with Mumbai- based Tata Institute of Social Sciences would be inked.

Addressing reporters here K.B. Valsala Kumari, executive director of Kudumbashree, said at the moment they are working on four community colleges, each specialising in different areas.

"With TISS, we are planning to have a post graduate diploma programme in development. Around 40 seats would be there for our members to join. TISS will provide all the technical and back support for this new education programme," said Kumari.

The second proposed community college would come about by teaming up with the Kerala Veterinary and Agricultural University where short term courses with a duration of three to six months on the basics of agriculture, pest control and dairy farming would held.

A third college would be for courses in automobile and construction and the fourth would be in the general administration area.

"These courses are exclusively meant for our own women members and fees would be kept to affordable levels," said Kumari.

As part of the 16th anniversary celebrations of Kudumbashree, it is holding a four-day celebration in the capital city starting next Tuesday which will be inaugurated by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

State Minister for Social Justice M.K. Muneer said education is one of the many new areas that Kudumbashree is entering into.

"We want to take women into newer areas and education is one segment. Besides this we are launching Cafe Shree's in 20 new locations, branding the products that are already being sold under different names, strengthening organic farming activities besides launching a new reality show to select the best project of Kudumbashree," said Muneer.

"Even as we enter the 16th year, we are still not happy with the aspect of providing security to our women and children. This is one area where we will be working hard and we have already launched a project of crime mapping that has started to show very good results," added Muneer.


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