THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kazhcha project has revived the hopes of Kerala Federation of the Blind (KFB) in reviving the Insight Project to train visually challenged to overcome the daily struggles. Despite being the lone centre for providing training to use smartphones and computers, it was forced to close shop after the social justice department stopped providing funds two years ago.
Consequently, several hundred visually challenged persons lost the opportunity to get training at the Kunnukuzhy centre here.
“There are several visually challenged persons who can afford a smartphone. But they do not have training centres to learn the skills,” said James Mathew, former coordinator, Insight.
The training part of Kazhcha project became easy as there was a ready pool of master trainers trained under Insight project.
But when the institute was shut down, the trainers had to look around for other jobs.
The social justice department accused KFB of misappropriating the funds provided for running Insight. But KFB has denied the charges and challenged the department to prove them.
Senior KFB members claimed that separate inspections carried out by Gulati institute of finance and audit department could not find any merit in the allegations. “Things have not changed even after a delegation from KFB had met Social Justice Minister K K Shailaja in July last year to discuss the possibility of restarting the project ,” said R Sasidharan Pillai, KFB outgoing executive director.
KFB is fighting a case with department for demanding repayment of rent for running the project since 2013. Insight has stopped taking residential training programme since February. It used to give Rs 200 as daily stipend for a student for the one-and-half month’s training period.
It had trained around 250 students every year on an average since 2013. Insight had centres in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode. It played an active role in training visually challenged in digital banking after demonetisation.
The work of Insight has been praised in Governor’s Policy Address, IT policy, and various assembly documents in the past. Many reports recommended the project to be replicated in each district.