Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani has informed the Lok Sabha that 228 block level clusters under the National Handloom Development Programme and the Comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme have been taken up during 2015-16 and 2016-17 in order to sharpen traditional skills of weavers.
"Under Block Level Clusters various interventions such as skill upgradation, technology upgradation, setting up of Common Facility Centres, including Common Service Centres, engagement of textile designer-cum-marketing executive, construction of work sheds as well as appointment of Cluster Development Executives have been taken up," she said.
Replying to a supplementary question, Irani said the central government will facilitate Tangaliya weavers to purchase looms, by providing them an assistance amounting to 90% of the price of looms. Citing a recent central government study, she said that around 30% family members of weavers do not go to school and merely one per cent among them complete graduation.
She stated that on August 7 last year, the Development Commissioner for Handlooms under the Ministry of Textiles had entered into two separate MoUs with the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) to provide education to handloom weavers and their children through open schooling as well as distance learning.
"IGNOU offers continuing education programmes and NIOS offers secondary as well as senior secondary level education. The MoUs further provide for exploring new courses especially relevant to the aspirations of handloom weavers for career progression," she said. The minister said all the willing handloom weavers and their children who fulfil eligibility conditions of these institutions can avail of learning opportunities.
IGNOU has identified two academic programmes namely Bachelor Preparatory Programme and Computer Literacy Programme. So far 6,175 students have been enrolled from the weaving community in these programmes. "The NIOS has been sanctioned Rs 10 lakh to conduct the survey in connection with the designing of courses exclusively for handloom weavers and their children," she said.