Wed, 16 Oct, 2019

Let us learn from the Kerala Model of Education

The Kerala reforms did not merely focus on improving infra facilities, but also the teaching and learning process, aligning these to present-day needs

10th October 2019, 01:14 Hrs

Dr Manasvi M Kamat

In its rankings of States based on various parameters of School Education released by NITI Aayog, Kerala has been ranked as the top performer in the Big States category. All the States were relatively ranked on the School Education Quality Index (SEQI) 2019 by grouping them into 20 large, eight small and seven UTs.

Kerala has always been ahead of the rest of the nation in most education parameters including literacy and women’s education for a long time now. Kerala currently tops the Educational Development Index (EDI) and was declared a fully literate State long back in 1991.

With the vibrant strides in education not only has Kerala attracted global attention, but many Indian States and education-related agencies at the national level have evinced interest in its successful ‘Model’. Most recently the National Literacy Mission invited the State Literacy Mission Authority (SLAM) Kerala to share its experiences in Adult Education during the Literacy Day celebrations in New Delhi based on NITI Aayog’s directions to follow the Kerala Model of literacy missions.

In another similar big achievement, four government day-schools and three government residential-schools from Kerala made it to the respective top 10 lists in the Educational World India School Rankings for 2019-20. These rankings are based on aspects such as infrastructure, completeness of faculty, academic reputation, safety and hygiene, among the total 14 parameters.

Kerala has a long history of over two centuries of modern school education with many schools functional for more than a century. The Kerala government capitalised on this strength and rich educational legacy to propose and implement a set of comprehensive educational reforms. The reforms did not merely focus on improving infrastructural facilities, but also the teaching and learning process, aligning these to present-day needs by introducing ICT-enabled learning and smart classrooms. Including upgrading of over 1,000 government schools to international standards, Kerala re-invested heavily in public education to ensure that its students are prepared for the changing world. 

Kerala equipped its students with knowledge through improvised syllabus and skills with the able assistance of IT in education. A minimum of 200 school-days and 1,000 learning-hours were mandated. The extra-circular activities including sports were being given equal importance.

To address the poor rate of admission in government-run schools and high annual refunds paid to private schools under Right to Education (RTE), the Kerala Model gives top priority to filling seats in government-run schools, next come aided schools and third priority is to private unaided schools. The amount of RTE refunds for Goa’s neighbour State, Karnataka, for instance, has a heavy burden of Rs 1,200 crore every year.

The Kerala Model redefined the existing classroom learning process and coordinated resource mobilisation efforts and developed a ‘Janakeeya Vidyabhyasa Mathruka’ (People’s Education Model). Through such people-participation programmes, the parents, politicians and the public were bundled on a single platform for developing public educational institutions across the state.

In keeping with the needs of the fast-growing role of technology in education in January last year, the Kerala Chief Minister inaugurated one of the most ambitious projects, a hi-tech school project aiming at imparting ICT-enabled education from classes eight to 12. The ‘IT@School Project’, an FOSS initiative, was upgraded to ‘Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education’ (KITE). KITE was made responsible for implementing this project in government schools and government-aided schools and about 45,000 classrooms were upgraded as ‘high-tech’ under this project. After this project successfully completed one year in January this year, the government brought primary schools into its ambit too.

The State prepared ‘Samagra’, an education resource portal for use in the hi-tech classrooms. It is designed to help teachers transact online, all learning objectives in the school curriculum by using lesson plans. ‘Samagra’ features thousands of digital resources in form of digital textbooks, videos, question banks, audio, pictures and interactive stimulations and e-resources which are accessible to all and can be sorted class and subject-wise, with over a lakh teachers trained to use these facilities. Similarly over a lakh students have been enrolled in IT clubs named ‘Little Kites’ to be trained in skills like animation, hardware, electronics, cybersecurity, Malayalam computing etc. These clubs also serve as incubators enabling students to make leading contributions through IT, for societal transformation.

As a result of all these measures on the education front, for the first time in 25 years, government schools in Kerala saw a year-on-year increase in the number of students enrolled, with the number reaching up to 1.8 lakh in 2018-19. Compared with the enrolment in 2017-18, a total of 40,000 more students enrolled in public schools last year. The fresh enrolment of 3.42 lakh students in the state schools in the last two years shows how effective the efforts have been.

In an interesting and innovative intervention called the ‘Promoting Regional Schools to ‘International Standards through Multiple Interventions’ (PRISM) in association with a UAE-based Foundation at one Government Vocational Higher Secondary School, the State mobilised around Rs 20 crore to help bring it to international standards. The Kozhikode IIM was roped in to train the teachers and today that school is rated among the best in the State enabling poor students to enjoy educating with world-class 

standards.

The high success of the Kerala Model of Education has played a significant role in ensuring that Kerala achieves, and sustains the high levels of Human Development Index among other States in the country. Given the best benchmarks for performance the State has set for others to follow, a higher level of synergy among the Central and State Governments is necessary to learn from Kerala Model and follow in its footsteps of success.

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