The stark discrimination suffered by the Malabar region in the matter of higher secondary education, has been dealt with in this column several times.
The current picture of that discrimination looks like this: In Malappuram district, which sent the largest number of candidates for SSLC exams and contributed the highest number of A+ students this year, the number of those who qualified for higher education is 78,335. The number of +1 seats available in the district 52,775. In other words, 25,560 students of Malappuram will have to either opt for open school scheme or lose out. In Kozhikode district, 44,074 qualied, against the total Plus One seats numbering 34,522. In Kannur the corresponding numbers are 33,098 against seat availability of 27,967, while in Palakkad it is 39,815 versus 28,206 seats. In Wayanad 11,306 who qualified with only 8,656 seats available. In Kasargode 18,541 passed but they can find only 14,278 seats. In short, in the districts from Palakkad to Kasargode, 59,575 students who qualified for higher education do not have enough facilities for higher education. The trend of passouts from the CBSE, ICSE syllabus institutions also opting for state's higher secondary stream is also rampant. Last year 42,864 such students across the state had sought admission to Plus One . That added to the matrix, the number of students who are denied opportunity for higher education will rise still further.
Over the last several years, wide clamour has been made that this discrimination towards Malabar has to be ended and the students there also have to be provided with facilities for higher education. But alternating governments have not done anything significant to solve the problem, as proved by the latest figures too. The surprising fact is that when half a lakh of students run in vain, without enough seats in sight, nearly 7,000 seats are lying as excess in central Kerala. What the government does at the beginning of each academic year is throwing dust in people's eyes by issuing a notification increasing the seats proportionately by 20 per cent. Sources in the know of matters say that it will be repeated this year too, once the moratorium of such orders under the model code of conduct for elections will end.
That means, the government will once again resort to the practice of converting class rooms into halls, and thereby upset the scientifically set student-teacher ratio. For the students in northern districts, the coming days will be a period of running earth and heaven for seats. Those who do not make it, will get registered in SCOLE Kerala (State Council for Open and Lifelong Education -Kerala) paying heavy fees. A look at the geography of the those who get registered in Scole Kerala, is a telling example of how our government machinery subjects a particular region to systematic discrimination. When the higher secondary results were released this year, 84.33 per cent had passed. However, the pass percentage under Scole Kerala was 43.48 per cent. Which means majority of the students of that category who paid hefty fees, fail to cross the hurdle of Plus Two and fall. Also to be noted is the fact that out of 58,895 students who registered themselves under Scole Kerala, 20,180 were from Malappuram district.
Most of these facts have been dilated upon over and over for several years. This column itself has been used for this many times over. Student organizations and social movements have raised the issue consistently. But the sad fact is that, no government that has ruled the state, regardless of left or right, has been prepared to take up the matter with due seriousness. It does not strike as shameful even to the people concerned that Malappuram, which has seen the maximum number of education ministers, and Kannur whose chief ministers have sat in office in the state longest, are the one lagging behind in the matter of educational facilities.
This is not a matter limited to the Plus One seats or to educational infra structure alone. In the matter of distribution of development, a striking geographical discrimination is prevailing in Kerala. It can be seen in sectors of health, revenue administration, transport and industry. It is only that this is more noticeable in the field of education. This should not end up as a pain of only the parents and students who cross Tenth Standard and are then destined to fight for Plus One seats. At least when the next academic year begins, there should not be a situation forcing everybody to harp on the same state of affairs once again.