Kerala’s free CLAT prep initiative helps Adivasi students, NUALS, Kochi. to reach

A free CLAT coaching program in Wayanad, Kerala has placed girls from poor Adivasi families in national and state law colleges

K Rajesh, Sub-Judge, DLSA Wayanad with CLAT 2021 candidates. The CLAT 2022 exam will take place on May 8, 2022

NEW DELHI: Mridula Manoj, a member of the Kattunayakan tribe in the Wayanad District of Kerala, was shy and had little hope of a successful career. However, her long-cherished dream of strengthening her community now seems feasible. With the help of a coaching program, she was able to secure admission to the leading National University of Advanced Legal Studies in Kochi this year.

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While the past two years have disproportionately affected Adivasi and other marginalized students’ access to education, a silver lining has been created by an initiative launched by the District Legal Service Authority, Wayanad, and the Integrated Tribal Development Program (ITDP) would. Together they offer tribal students free coaching for the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT). The CLAT 2022 is being conducted for admission to the leading law schools, National Law Universities, in India.

The Kattunayakan tribe is sparse in the remote hamlets of Wayanad and rarely finds academic opportunities. With the help of the DLSA initiative, students like Manoj can embark on a legal career.

Their representation in the legal sector is close to zero, says K Rajesh, sub-judge, DLSA Wayanad. “We want to encourage young students to get to know their rights and also to find lucrative professions in law. One of the plans of the DLSA is to collect the Planned Castes and Planned Tribes. After much scrutiny, we have found that there are very few lawyers in this community. So we decided to train them so that they could write admission tests for law. It is important that the tribal students as well as other children are given sufficient opportunities, ”said Rajesh.

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After intensive online training from law teachers from institutions across the country and volunteers from the non-profit organization Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access to Legal Education (IDIA), Manoj won first place in the Scheduled Tribe category in Kerala. As the daughter of a mother who works every day, Manoj is determined to lift her family of four out of poverty. “I want to be able to help my community in some way. I don’t know how yet, but I’ll do it, ”said Manoj resolutely.

CLAT 2022 exam, CLAT 2022 registration, CLAT 2022 registration form, CLAT 2022 curriculum, Wayanad CLAT coachingMridula Manoj received approval for NUALS, Kochi in 2021

CLAT exam 2022 coaching

The Niyama Gothra Padhathi initiative, which started in 2020 with just 11 12th grade students at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, attracted 27 students this year. They attended formal orientation and career counseling by the DLSA before receiving three months of exam-oriented crash coaching to crack legal entrance exams. During the second wave of COVID-19, when schools closed to contain the spread of the virus, the ITDP and DLSA moved these students to model dormitories so they could attend online lectures.

“The village has no electricity in the late hours, there is neither an internet connection nor a smartphone to access online courses. DLSA had to bring them to their dorm campus during the peak of the second wave in May 2021. When they got back on campus, we were able to do much better classes until July, ”said Krishnavarna CS, a fourth year student at NUALS Kochi and a volunteer at IDIA.

In addition to Krishnavarna, 12 other university volunteers who managed to teach in Malayalam worked with DLSA. “At first we were concerned about the students’ ability to grasp the elements of the competitive exam. These students study in Malayalam medium and are not fluent in English. It was quite difficult to teach them in English when the entrance test was only in English, ”she said.

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CLAT is conducted in English across India and most questions are based on understanding. The students, Krishnavarna said, received rigorous training to solve questions in English. So far, the initiative has helped two students from the community gain admission to NUALS Kochi. Another student from the ward, Radhika KK, received admission in 2020 and inspired others to join. Although only Manoj was admitted to a national university that year, seven other students who had also attended the Kerala Law Entrance Exam (KLEE) were admitted to various private and state law schools.

“Given the background they come from and the lack of facilities they face every day, Mridula’s success has been very encouraging. If it’s not the national university, several others have successfully obtained admission to state law schools, which is encouraging, ”said Krishnavarna.

CLAT exam 2022: motivating students

Teacher at Central University, Kasaragod; Lloyd Law College, Noida; Government Law College in Kozhikode and even a PhD student from Yale University in the United States trained the children via video conference. KI Jayasankar, a teacher in the Legal Department of the Central University of Kerala, Thiruvalla Campus, oversaw the program. Teachers gave these students training in English, reasoning, personal development, and other aspects of cracking law admission tests.

“I belong to Wayanad and know the tribes very well. I feel very connected to the project and have never seen it as a burden. When Mr. Rajesh invited me to contribute, I was delighted to be able to help the community. Most teachers have some connection with this place, ”said Lawwellman P, a teacher at Government Law College in Kozhikode.

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Although the students took the initiative, it took extra effort to keep them motivated, especially the girls, Lawwellman said. “Most of these students were girls. Parents are reluctant to send their girls away for higher education. We had to talk to the students and their parents all the time to keep them motivated to continue class. I was able to visit the children often, if not regularly, to motivate them, ”he said.

Having limited knowledge of their rights and the importance of legal training, students and parents were given advice to see the benefits. “It took some time to allay their fears, but it was very satisfying when they were all on board,” he added.

Studied at the state law faculty

As part of the initiative, students who had secured admission to law schools were also provided with laptops and an Internet connection. All of these students’ tuition fees are sponsored by the ITDP. The DLSA maintains contact with the students and helps them to get an internship during their studies.

While ITDP and DLSA help students overcome the admission barrier, IDIA offers students help on campus. Living, travel and other expenses are covered by the IDIA for Manoj and Radhika, who were both part of the DLSA initiative.

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“At NUALS Kochi, we run a scholarship development program on campus. Students coming from tribal areas will need help even after they are admitted. The campus is intimidating, the classes are in English, and the coursework is intimidating. Older students on campus act as mentors to the students to help them overcome these hurdles, ”said Shinto Mathews Abraham, NUALS Kochi alumnus and IDIA associate director.

After being admitted to the university, Manoj regularly takes part in English coaching for IDIA members. “When I first came to campus, it was a little difficult to follow the lessons in the classroom. Everything is more or less taught in English. I take English lessons from the mentors every day, which helps me understand the lectures better, ”said Manoj.

“It was an experiment that succeeded beyond expectations. We plan to continue the program to help more students attend national and state colleges. I hope that more students will take part in the coaching. In order to reach more students and increase the success rate, we are planning to run offline courses this time. Mridula and Radhika are asked to mentor the students from the community to graduate from law school, ”said Rajesh. The Consortium of National Law Universities (NLUs) announced the date of the CLAT 2022 exam on January 1st. The CLAT 2022 exam will take place on May 8, 2022.

The Kerala Legal Service Authority, inspired by the Wayanad Initiative, asked all other districts to emulate the program in their areas. The third chapter of this initiative was opened in December by the Minister of Social Affairs of Kerala SC and ST, K Radhakrishnan.


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