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Education Sector In Kerala

Kerala had a fairly long tradition of indigenous educational heritage as exemplified by such pre-modern establishments meant for imparting learning as ‘Salai’, ‘Kudipallikoodam’, ‘Othupallikoodam’, ‘Kalari’ etc. During the pre-modern epoch, there had been separate and distinct educational arrangements for the various castes and communities. It was during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that, systematic attempts began to be made for bringing about uniformity in the diverse localized educational traditions and practices. By the early decades of the nineteenth century itself, rudimentary forms of modern educational institutions began to emerge in Travancore and Cochi under the initiatives of the missionaries and later by the patronage of the native rulers. On this foundations, by the early quarter of the twentieth century itself, these two regions had registered remarkable progress in terms of the expansion of education. However, the Malabar region which was under the direct colonial rule, had been neglected in terms of the educational advancement. The role of socio-religious reform movements which had flourished during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the popularization of modern education has to be emphasized. The reform movements in general had perceived the acquisition of modern education as a means of social emancipation and laid great stress on mass education. Later the successive democratic governments have successfully carried forward the efforts at expanding mass education.


The initial efforts in this regard has been made by the first democratic government formed after the formation of Kerala in 1957. The Communist government had made attempts to revamp both general education and university education in the state. Thus two Bills (Kerala University Bill and Kerala Education Bill) were presented in the legislature in July-August 1957.


The Kerala University Bill was passed on 26th August 1957. This Bill was intended to make the University as an autonomous body and to convert it as an affiliating University. The Governor of the state is to be the Chancellor and the education minister to be the Pro-Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor of the University is to be appointed by the Chancellor. The colleges were separated from the direct administrative control of the University and brought under the Collegiate Education Department. The Syndicate and the Senate of the University were constituted in a democratic way. The later University Acts were in the pattern of the Kerala University Act.


Kerala Education Bill was intended to protect the rights of the teachers, to regulate the appointment of teachers in aided schools, to bring the aided school managers under the purview of law etc. It envisaged the constitution of a state level advisory board for the guidance of general education in the state and local education authority at school levels. The Bill sought to curb the powers of the private school managers, to lessen the grievances of the teachers and students and to improve the quality of instruction.


The Education Bill provided the private school teachers the right to salaries directly from the government and it required the managers to make over to the government all, such as the collection of fee etc. from the students. The government would give the managers grants in aid for maintaining and running the schools. The Bill also provided for compulsory education. The Kerala Legislature passed this Bill in December 1958. It was the reforms envisaged by the Kerala Education Act of 1959 that laid the foundation for further educational innovations in the state.


The primary attention of the government in the sphere of education was to ensure primary education to all. The Education Act had insisted that the government should provide free and compulsory education for all children with in a certain period of time since the commencement of the Act. It was also stipulated that, the government should provide mid-day meal, clothing, books and other writing materials to students free of cost. Collection of tuition fee at the primary and upper primary levels was abolished in 1960-61, at the secondary levels in 1969-70 and at the higher secondary levels in 1990- 91. The mass literacy campaign and the declaration of Kerala as a complete literate state in April 1991 can be considered as an important achievement of the socially responsive public education system.


At the close of the twentieth century, Kerala has a lot to take legitimate pride in terms of educational advancement. Kerala has already achieved the goal of universal primary education during the 1980s itself. Over 98 percent of children in the age group 5-11 are now enrolled in schools. Over the years, there has been a profound growth in the density of educational institutions so much so that, now schools are available in a range of every three kilometers through out Kerala irrespective of the rural urban differences. Creative interventions are being made in the different aspects relating to the education system like curriculum and examination reforms, training to the teachers, restructuring of the organization of educational programmes etc. There has also been attempts to expand higher education in the state. In the place of sole university (University of Kerala) and a few colleges at the time of state formation, there sprang up several universities in different parts of Kerala. Over the years, number of arts and science colleges, professional colleges and fine arts colleges have also substantially increased. Pre-primary education is also getting institutionalized with government sponcered Ankanvadis becoming popular all over Kerala. In Kerala, schools and colleges are mostly run by the government, private trusts and individual managements. Each school is affiliated with either the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Kerala State Education Board or the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). English is the language for instruction in most of the private schools, while the government run schools offer English or Malayalam as the medium of instruction. Government schools in the adjoining districts of Karnataka and Tamilnadu offer instruction in Kannad and Tamil language respectively. A handful of government Sanskrit schools provide instruction in Sanskrit supplemented by Malayalam, English, Tamil and Kannada. After ten years of general schooling, students typically would get enrolled at higher secondary level in either of the three streams vis. science, commerce and humanities. Upon completing the required course works, students can enroll in professional or general degree programmes.


Kerala tops the education development index (EDI) among the various Indian states. However, notwithstanding this, the experience of Kerala’s education system in terms of quality standards perform poorly. A major factor pointed out for the quality crisis of Kerala education system is the financial constraints on the part of the government due to the quantitative unwieldiness of the sector. It has been pointed out in the studies that, even though the drop-out rate of children at the primary levels was vary low, the same shows an increasing trend at the highschool and higher secondary levels. This is particularly true about the SC and ST students. It has been estimated that, among the scheduled caste students, only 59 percent of the total number of children joining school at the primary level reach the tenth standard. Among the scheduled tribes, the dropout rate is 60 percent.

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