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Pallikoodam or Pallikkoodam (Malayalam: പള്ളിക്കൂടം) is a word in Malayalam and Tamil that denotes a school.[1] These were mostly village schools run by individual teachers (Ezhuthu Aashaans or Asans or Gurus) and were distinct from Kalaris that taught martial arts.[2] [3]


Although other origins are possible, a generally accepted explanation of the etymology of this Malayalam word is that it is a blend word formed out of two Malayalam words Palli and Koode and that this originated from the centuries-old practice of the Malankara Syrian Christian Church in Kerala to run a school (Pallikoodam) along with (Malayalam word: കൂടെ, Transliteration: Koode) each and every major church (Malayalam word: പള്ളി, Transliteration: Palli) of the locality.


There were different forms of Pallikoodams that were established across Kerala offering different levels of education, with some regional variations. Kudippallikoodam was by far the most important, popular and wide spread form, since most of the students except clerics, priests or scholarly professionals would usually stop after receiving elementary education and start working on their professions.


Kudippallikoodam (കുടിപ്പള്ളിക്കൂടം) also known as 'Aashan Pallikoodam' (ആശാൻ പള്ളിക്കൂടം) was a popular form of schooling. This was an indigenous elementary schooling method where an instructor or aashan (ആശാൻ) would teach young children about alphabets, numbers, elementary arithmetic, writing as well as generic aspects of life such as personal discipline, cleanliness, morality and general knowledge. Young students are initially trained on writing by making them write on sand. Once they are comfortable with writing on sand, the students would upgrade themselves to writing on the common writing medium i.e. palm leaves (Thaliyola or Palm-leaf manuscripts) as the writing material and iron pen (Narayam) as the writing instrument (stylus) to scribe on them.

In the 20th century CE, the writing medium mostly got upgraded into wooden slates and chalk. This continued to be the casea until the system almost completely died out by the dawn of 21st century CE.

Revival Efforts[edit]

Some efforts have been undertaken in recent times to revive the traditional teaching methods and tools. A noteworthy example is the initiative titled Malayalam Pallikoodam that was proposed by the famous Malayalam Poet V Madhusoodanan Nair. This initiative tried to revive the use of wooden slates instead of paper notebooks and pencils for teaching Malayalam, and has received significant attention from parents.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rajnish, Manu. STATE OF MIND. Manu Rajnish. ISBN 9789350871270. 
  2. ^ Wilson, Kokkat (2016). Contributions of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate Congregation to Education in Kerala: 1831-2008. Dharmaram Publications, Dharmaram College. ISBN 9789384964436. 
  3. ^ Menon, Dilip M. (2015-12-01). "Writing History in Colonial Times: Polemic and the Recovery of Self in Late Nineteenth-Century South India". History and Theory. 54 (4): 64–83. doi:10.1111/hith.10779. ISSN 1468-2303. 
  4. ^ Kumar, Kaavya Pradeep (2014-08-10). "Reliving the 'pallikoodam' experience". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2017-12-01.