Kerala is a state that has achieved all the millennium development goals set for education well in advance. It is also the first state to achieve universal literacy. School dropouts in Kerala are very low. The state has managed to reduce the wide disparity in literacy and enrollment at all levels between the Malabar region of the former Madras Presidency and the regions comprising the former princely states of Travancore and Cochin.
Highlights of Kerala’s achievements in the field of education include over 94% of the rural population being served by a primary school/section within 1 km and 98% of the population being provided with a school within 2 km. Kerala provides access to secondary/higher secondary education within 8 km to almost 98% of the rural population.
By doing this for children’s learning, the education sector in Kerala has been instrumental in providing facilities for higher and technical education within reasonable distance to rural students. Also, the widespread availability of public transport and highly subsidised transport fares have facilitated easy access for rural students to higher education institutions in towns and cities.
Another feature of our education system is that children are guaranteed free and compulsory education from pre-primary level to class 10 in government educational institutions. It is a great achievement that Kerala’s education system has been able to achieve gender parity in enrollment to a large extent. About half of the students in lower primary classes are girls. Moreover, the ratio of girls is higher in higher classes in schools. While the proportion of girls at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in arts and science colleges is high, the representation of girls in professional courses is relatively low.
Including the scheduled castes (Dalits) and scheduled tribes (Adivasis) in the educational development is important as they constitute a sizable segment of the population of the country. The literacy rates for scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST) population, though lower than those of the general population in the state, are higher than the literacy rates for the general population in India.
Educational methods in Kerala
Every child has the right to education. It includes differently abled children. Inclusive education is a basic human right for every child with disabilities. We can understand the importance of inclusive education only if we go through the steps in the subject learning pathways of the differently abled.
Exclusion: This is the state in which the differently abled person is denied education due to the illusion of the society that no matter what the level of their ability or whatever category they belong to, they do not need to be given education and therefore have no benefit.
Segregation: Differently-abled children are educated in a special environment that is provided for them by keeping them away from the environment provided to normal children. Through this, such children experience a great deal of isolation. It also denies the right of a human being to be a normal social being.
Integration: Through this, education is imparted to the children by including them in general subject mode. But it is an education system that does not include suitable adjustments for them to reach the mainstream by getting experience with other children in combat activities and so on.
Inclusion: Through this all children can be a part of public education without any discrimination. Teaching methods, school physical conditions, curricula, educational culture, policy and training are all restructured in such a way as to bring all the 21 categories stipulated by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 to the mainstream, to overcome their difficulties and improve their abilities to the maximum and ensure their equal participation in the society.
What are the reasons for Exclusion?
- Children with disabilities and SC and ST children are excluded through exclusionary education. For such children, there are scholarships and fee waivers granted by the government in government schools. But with the advent of aided and unaided schools, schools are excluding such children for financial gain.
- Schools also play a major role in preparing children for today’s competitive world. But competition also exists between schools. Thus all schools emphasise 100% pass. Especially the private schools. Therefore, such schools exclude differently-abled, learning-disabled and academically backward children from schools.
Education and education exclusion are two mammoth social and political challenges in a society characterised by diverse social groups. Although the ‘self-financing regime’ helped to barricade the outflow of money from the state, it also hampered the ‘social equity’ in education and hence germinated the seed of education exclusion in Kerala.
Inclusive education is essential in Kerala. But currently exclusion is prevalent. By classifying the students into various categories, the curriculum is implemented for them. For example, special schools and child development centres for differently-abled children, separate schools for each religion, and cast, aided and unaided schools with ICSE, CBSE syllabuses and higher fees for children from the economically advantaged sections of the society, and separate schools for girls, boys and transgenders etc.