Kerala, which was once regarded as the cent per cent literate state, has started loosing its sheen now. The state lost its enviable position due to its failure to prevent more than a million neo-literates from relapsing into illiteracy. The new giants of this position are the two northeastern states of Tripura and Mizoram, says a study by the State Council for Educational Research and Training.
The study showed that 5% of the students in class VII cannot identify alphabets, 35% of them can’t read or write their mother tongue, while 85% students are poor in basic science and 73% in mathematics.
Class IV students did not fare any better – 47% students can’t write in Malayalam and 25% in English. The case with maths and science was even worse: while 63% students are poor in mathematics, 73% do not have even basic knowledge in science, it said.
The study was conducted among 4,800 students of class IV and VII in Kasargod, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta and Thiruvananthapuram districts. The students were tested in language, maths and basic science. As many as 19% students in Thiruvananthapuram scored zero in geometry.
The illiterates, or those who never went to any school, fared far better. They were able to read and write after attending literacy classes for a few months.
However, there are some indicators leading to the loss of position, they are listed below:
Short staffed: The state also has a glut of teachers. A recent study by the education department showed that more than 3,500 schools in the state had less than 30 students each in 2014. There were 46,240 teachers in these schools, which translates to 13 teachers for every 30 students – or one teacher for every two students.
Unemployable:Thousands of MBBS graduates and hundreds of post-graduates are languishing without jobs in the state at present, according to Kerala Medical Post Graduates Association.
As regards engineers, a survey conducted as part of National Employability Report for 2011 showed that Kerala figured at number 10 in terms of employability in the IT services sector among 16 states. This is despite one in every two students either dropping out of the course or failing in the exams.
The professional graduates add to the swelling army of unemployed in the state. The unemployment in the state is over three times the all India average. The number of unemployed in the live registers of employment exchange in 2013 stood at 39.78 lakhs.