P. N. Panicker

This article is a reprint of our Journal "Adult Education and Development", no. 15, 1980, pp. 108–112. At this time P. N. Panicker has been Secretary of KANFED. In this article he writes on the main objectives and activities and on its major work in publishing materials in the early years of KANFED. Under his leadership as Secretary of the Grandhasala Sanghom about 4,300 libraries have been organized in Kerala during this periode.

KANFED – A Private Organization Promoting Adult Education

The Kerala Association for Non-formal Education and Development is the successor organization of the Kerala State Adult Literacy Council formed by a few leading social workers and educationists much earlier. It was registered on June 30, 1977, with its headquarters in Trivandrum. Its present offices, bookstore and library are located in Kaksharatha Bhavan, Trivandrum-14, Kerala, India. The Association has at present 202 life members and 100 ordinary institutional members. Administration is carried out by a presidium of three members, a secretariat of four members and an executive committee of 25 members, which meet at least once a month, and the general body, ordinarily once a year.

The broad objectives of KANFED are:

  1. To promote the educational, cultural and economic development of all sections of the people.

  2. To help universalize education by stepping up propaganda for it and by the institution of non-formal education activities supplementary to the formal education system in operation today.

  3. To establish institutes for research and training in all aspects of non-formal education, publishing houses for the production of literacy materials, and centres for the eradication of illiteracy.

  4. To plan and carry out projects in continuing education, correspondence courses and research.

The following activities have been undertaken in furtherance of the above objectives:

  1. Committees have been set up in all districts of the State, and at block and panchayat levels in most districts to organize, conduct and supervise literacy centres. Regional Resource Centres have been set up to store books, teaching aids and other materials necessary for adult education and make them available to all literacy centres.

  2. Primers for beginners, and books and periodicals for neo-literates have been published by the headquarters. While the books for neo-literates have mostly been prepared through seminars and workshops organized for capable young writers at different centres in the State, the primers, maps and charts, wall newspaper and the like have been prepared, on the basis of research, by competent educationists.

  3. Adult literacy workers, supervisors, project officers and organizers have been trained by holding short training camps of 3 to 5 days to begin with, later extending the period of training to a maximum of 21 days.

  4. Monitoring and evaluation of the literacy centres and research are being organized.

Financial Resources

In recognition of the meritorious work done by KANFED in the course of the first few months, the Government of Kerala, the German Adult Education Association and the Government of India came forward to help the organization with funds for specific activities. The grant from the Government of Kerala was for meeting office expenses. The grant from the German Adult Education Association was, in the first year, for meeting expenses in connection with the production of literature for adult and continuing education only, though in the second year it was also extended to cover some part of the training programmes as well. The grant from the Government of India was to run the State Resource Centre, which is the academic component of the organizational set-up for the literacy drive in the State.

Reading Materials

The books prepared and published by KANFED during the last two years, including those in press, number nearly 200. They consist of 12 primers, 30 books for instructors (books on philosophy, psychology, and methodology), 12 books on agriculture including animal husbandry, poultry, fisheries, handicrafts and small scale industry, 18 books on health and hygiene, and 42 books for neo-literates. The rest are leaflets, pamphlets and brochures.

The primers form one packet, with each book dealing with the introduction to the three R’s in relation to either a specific group of people or a specific theme. Thus while a few are called the Alphabet Primer, the Science Primer and the Health Primer, the others are called Primer for Women, Primer for Agriculturists, and Primer for Tribals.

The biographies are of local leaders, national leaders and world leaders who have helped remake mankind. Representative titles are Ayyan Kali, the Kerala Harijan leader; Dr. Ambadkar, India’s champion of the depressed classes; Martin Luther King, the Black leader of the United States; Karl Marx, who revolted against the oppression of the working classes, heroes of Indian Independence like Mahatma Ghandi; and the great scientists who invited new devices, discovered new truths or conquered diseases.

The series “Land and People” provides an introduction to Kerala and some of the districts in it which are backward and others which are industrially advanced, and gradually leads on to the people, the resources, and the structure of Government in India both centraly and in the villages, The series on Agriculture deals with some of the important crops raised locally and with the modern inputs and the technology for intensive cultivation. Separate books have also been written on animal husbandry, poultry and fishing. The books on health and hygiene deal first with aid, preventive medicine, public health, nutrition and simple deseases and their remedies.

Other books deal with institutions like the post office and the treasury, electricity, housing, the saving habit and the bullock cart. Books have been written on festivals (like the “Thira”), on reptiles (like snakes), and on evils to be eradicated (like drinking), books stressing the need for overcoming blind beliefs, rotten traditions and customs which have no rational or moral basis. Themes like how people are governed, duties and responsibilities of citizens in a democracy, the need for cooperation and mutual understanding and love in communal living, and the civil rights of the depressed and the oppressed classes and the legal remedies open to them have also been dealt with. Story books, poems and short skits for acting have not been left out.

Books for Teachers and Organizers

While the books mentioned above are to be read by, or to be read to, the adult learners, the books on the philosophy of the National Adult Education Programme, the psychology of the adult learners, the methodology of instruction, the techniques of communication, the preparation and use of teaching materials and aids, the problem approach to learning, group dynamics, principles involved in conducting discussions from buzz sessions to seminars, workshops and conferences, and the techniques of monitoring and evaluation, village surveys, opinion surveys and questionnaires, are intended for the instructors and other adult literacy functionaries. More than one book has been written on each aspect so that readers can form their own ideas, without getting indoctrinated on vital issues. A fortnightly journal is produced for teachers and organizers. The aim has been to instil ideas that promote a desire for social change and some knowledge of science and technology in the homes and fields of ordinary people in the wake of modern civilization.