Heading towards Modernisation

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The imminent need in the field of education in Kerala is modernisation and the state is heading towards it, says A Shajahan, Secretary, General Education Department, Kerala, in conversation with Nayana Singh of ENN

A ShajahanPlease give us an overview of operations in your department?

We have around 12,000 schools under the direct management of the government. 62 per cent schools are in the government aided sector. Aided sector means the school is managed privately and salary to teachers is given by the government. 38 per cent schools are government and 62 per cent are government aided schools. 11,999 schools up to class 12 are in our system. Apart from that, we have some CBSE and ICSE schools, which are permitted to function in Kerala with the permission of the government. In Kerala, schools are operated under the purview of state education rules. There are state-specific education rules that require minimum criteria to be fulfilled to set up a school in Kerala. Kerala has comprehensive procedures for the education sector as stipulated by the Right to Education Act. We have achieved 100 per cent enrollment with cent percent retention and less than .5 dropout. We are even making efforts to bring the dropout students back into education. For general education development, there are institutions like State Council for Education Research and Training (SCERT), State Institute of Education Management and Training (SIEMAT) and a special project termed ‘IT at School’. We have a unique educational channel under this department and are planning 17 hours telecast under the channel named Victers. The equipment for IT facilities like computers, smartphones, and broadband connectivity has been accomplished in the state. In addition, we are also providing ITbased training to teachers through Victers.

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What are the new schemes or initiatives that the state government has launched towards digitisation at the school level?

We have come up with a scheme of UID for all students and have already covered 90 per cent UID for enrollment. We have a software solution that has complete database of teaching and non-teaching staff of Kerala. We have also captured the database of all school infrastructure including furniture, building, equipments, etc., for any further planning of the schools. We have introduced IT text books for conducting examination for IT as a subject. We are also implementing SSIRMS, MP, MLA and local body funds for provisioning better education in the state. The administration of the school is distributed among local bodies. For operational ease, we have a good system of decentralisation that enables a project to be managed better.

Education sector in the state is one of the best in the country and the state has the highest literacy rate. What is the reason for your success?

Traditionally, in the state, promotion of education has been given highest priority by missionaries and community educationalists. The geographical condition of the state and its socio-cultural exchange by the means of trade relations with China, Sri Lanka, and Middle-East have also exposed the state to development outside and created an environment of development. The state is even in direct influence of western civilisation since the arrival of Vasco da Gama to Calicut in search of America.

What is your vision for future development of the state in terms of education?

Quality is an important issue to be catered to. As we are into the third generation of education, the public see scope in English medium schools which are more in demand now-a-days. Technology and physical condition of school is another big issue in Kerala education. We have school buildings that are approximately 50 to 100 years old. Some schools here even belong to the 11th century. We have to modernise those schools. One such example of a school modernised with public participation is a girl school in Calicut, where alumni and school foundation has invested `15 crore and have led the school to international standards. The state education department, with the help of associations like IIM Calicut, is devising programmes to train teachers for the modernisation of schools. So, imminent need in the field of education in Kerala is modernisation and we are heading towards it.

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