Saturday, March 24, 2012
Kerala fails to pass the test
Dr S Remadevi/ Kochi
Despite excellent literacy rate and presence of quality institutions, Kerala students are lagging behind in competitive tests. Is it due to declining quality in education?
At a recent seminar at Thiruvananthapuram, the general refrain among speakers was why Keralities, despite having better education avenues, are not figuring in the list of successful candidates for all India competitive exams.
Many speakers said it is myth to say that Kerala is an oasis of learning as there is a steady decline in the quality of education. Experts blamed successive governments for the condition of education in the state.
One of the major reasons is financial constraints faced by the sector. There has been a quantitative expansion of the sector but this has also added to its financial woes. This has hit the efforts on upgradation and modernisation of the sector. The state has not been able to properly take care of the existing infrastructure. Also there has been a dearth of ideas as to how to go about quantitative and qualitative expansion of the sector.
The decline of the quality of education in government-run schools has resulted in the mushrooming of schools in the private sector.
The State has around 13,000 schools of which 4,500 are Government schools while about 7,500 are private-aided and some 800 private-unaided schools.
"About 30 per cent of the children who complete primary schools do not reach the necessary achievement levels in literacy and numeracy," say Dr K.K. George and Dr K.K. Krishnakumar of the Centre for Socio Economic and Environmental Studies (CSES).
According to media reports, the dropout rates in secondary schools are high. This is particularly true for SC/ST students.
“Only about 50 per cent of the students who appear for the examination get through in spite of liberal valuation and provision for grace marks. Only one-third of the children who join the first standard manage to pass the matriculation examination,” they said.
There were reports in the media which showed how even 10th pass students were not able to spell their names correctly.
The large-scale drop-outs in the secondary schools as also the high percentage of failures at the matriculation level, the low average marks scored etc., are manifestations of the low-level of preparation of students and their consequent inability to cope with even the modest sifting procedures.
But a recent study has brought out that the per-pupil expenditure on secondary education is very low compared to other States. The per-pupil expenditure on secondary education in Kerala is only Rs 4,659, as against the all-India average of Rs 5,668.
In higher education also, the situation is not very encouraging. Kerala lags behind other States not only in qualitative terms but also in quantitative terms.