Malayalam Padasala

The purpose of MALAYALAM PAADASALA is to promote, the children of Malayalee community to learn our mother tongue “Malayalam” through a language-learning program “MALAYALAM PAADASALA” which is organized by AMA in Alice Springs. It helps our kids to connect with and understand the community that uses the language from an insider’s view, which in turn, creates respect towards the community.

The main aim of this initiative is to preserve our culture and heritage through generations and keep connections with our culture and traditions that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. These traditions are the glue that holds our community together. It creates a certain emotion within us, or because they make us feel as though we belong to something – a country, a tradition, a way of life.

Background

Kerala is a state with a significant number of expatriates. The expatriates of Kerala are extremely proud of their cultural heritage and make every effort to pass this on to their future generations, including its language, as language is a passport to understand a culture.

As non-resident Indians, we are aware of the difficulties our children have to go through, while growing up wavering between two cultures – the culture the parents try to endorse at home and the culture they see around them when they mingle with the outside world. Learning Malayalam will help our children develop a healthy sense of identity of who they are and where they come from.

Parents have an obligation to enrich the kids with knowledge about their ancestry, so they can build self-respect and grow up as confident individuals. To clearly understand and absorb the rich and varied heritage of Kerala and thus become a proud Malayalee, what other way than to learn Shreshta Bhasha (Pristine Language) – Malayalam.! Learning Malayalam will not only help the kids to communicate with their families in Kerala but also open up the world of Malayalam Literature which is one of the best in the world. This will help them to remain connected to their roots.

With these ideas in perspective, the Alice Springs Malayalee Association supported a few of its members to initiate “MALAYALAM PADASALA” , for the children/youth of Alice Springs Malayalee Community in April 2018.

In 2018, there were around 30 students in different age groups and received interest from many of the AMA members, who volunteered to be teachers, despite having other work and family commitments. The teachers assisted by volunteering their time to teach Malayalam on a rotating roster, even there was one permanent teacher who acted as the main coordinator of this program. The coordinator also had the responsibility to manage teacher’s rosters and also ensure all the documentation including registration forms and attendance was maintained and all the teachers had their NT working with Children Clearance. Classes were run free of cost to the members of the community. The classes in 2018 were held at Larapinta Primary School every Saturday from 11am to 12 pm. Thanks to Larapinta Primary school Principal and the school council for supporting ‘MALAYALAM PAADASALA’ and providing the venue free of charge.

The students were allocated into 2 different classes initially based on their age in order to provide them individual attention. Half way through the year a new class was added, due to the continuous request from some members of the community who were not able to secure a place for their kids in the initial group. Our focus is on teaching the students to read, write and speak in Malayalam. Every week the students were provided with practice papers that had dotted letters, which the students were meant to be learning each week. The students also learnt simple Malayalam words starting with the letters they learnt each week.

In the future we are planning to incorporate multimedia, career guidance, personal development, motivation, team building and meditation programs to our learning environment. There are also plans to provide students with textbooks and workbooks as well.

Program for this year is underway. More details will be available soon.