Thiruvananthapuram: Not only Keralites but even Nepal nationals will also start speaking Malayalam, the mother tongue of Keralites, soon, thanks to a state-sponsored literacy drive.

26 migrant workers from Nepal, who came to the southern state in search of greener pastures, have registered to learn Malayalam under “Changathi,” a literacy programme organised by the Kerala State Literacy Mission (KSLM).

“Changathi” is exclusively designed to help migrant workers who flock in large numbers to the state, official sources said.

According to KSLM, the programme has received impressive response from labourers outside the state, who mainly come in search of jobs in construction and hotel industry.

If the first phase of the programme saw good response from natives of West Bengal, Bihar, and Odisha, the second phase saw migrant workers from 17 Indian states and the neighbouring country of Nepal registering their names, they said.

“As many 26 workers from Nepal have signed up for Malayalam classes. Of them, the highest number is in Idukki district, 20. Alappuzha district has three, Kasaragod two and Pathanamthitta has one Nepal national as student,” a KSLM statement said.

In total, 2,886 migrant workers, including 145 women, have so far registered for the literacy drive in the present phase, it said adding that while 1,932 of the enrolments are in the 15-40 age group, 954 belong to the age above 40 years.

Within the country, workers from West Bengal form the bulk of the registrations 1,390.

Assam is next with 459 workers, followed by Bihar (245) and Odisha (181).

According to figures, the number of registrations from neighbouring Tamil Nadu is 166, 121 from Uttar Pradesh, 94 from Jharkhand, 84 from Karnataka, 49 from Chhattisgarh, 46 from Rajasthan, seven from Tripura, six each from Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, three from Manipur, and one each from Delhi, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

Training for the 144 instructors, who will lead the classes, are under way, it said adding that the second phase of the “Changathi” will be implemented in one local self-government body in each of the 14 districts.

KSLM director, PS Sreekala said a total of 1,738 migrant workers cleared the examinations in the first phase.

“Besides language classes, special sessions on health, hygiene, and workers’ rights will be held. With five hours of learning a week, Changathi aims at making participants literate in Malayalam in four months,” the official added.