The Plight of ‘Unprofitable’ Schools in Kerala

‘That which liberates’ is knowledge according to Indian Philosophy. What if the educational system entitled to uphold the same philosophy abandons the seekers of knowledge halfway through their primary education? An interesting remark is that, though Indian philosophy does not endorse monetary benefit as a parameter of basic education, factual accounts show that education has always been the privilege of affluent people. Even after implementing the Right to Education Act, the country still struggles to meet the demands of primary education. This is reflected in the recent developments in Kerala’s educational sector, where shutting down of unprofitable schools have become quite common.

Though ‘unproductive’ is a common expression concerning Indian education, it would be rather ironic to use ‘Unprofitable’, as the word itself questions the objective of education. This is why the recent shutdown of primary schools in Kerala is observed dubiously. At a time when liberalization in the educational sector is transforming higher educational institutions into competing corporate industries and private managements are auctioning seats in the label of managements, people often overlook the condition of basic education. According to the Economic Review 2015, out of 12,615 schools in Kerala 5,573 are uneconomic, which amounts to 44 percent of the total number. Deprived of the basic amenities, many government-aided schools are on the verge of closure. Recently, the managers of such schools moved legally, asking authorities to shut down the more unprofitable school in Kerala. The action has dragged attention regarding uncertainty in the future of a large number of kids from the rural background. The rates would further increase as the fresh academic year saw a fall off of over 60,000 students. For those who care about free education for all, the alarming rate of closure is a grievous issue.

According to the Economic Review 2015, out of 12,615 schools in Kerala 5,573 are uneconomic, which amounts to 44 percent of the total number. Deprived of the basic amenities, many government-aided schools are on the verge of closure. Recently, the managers of such schools moved legally, asking authorities to shut down the more unprofitable school in Kerala.

Meanwhile, the new academic year of Malapparamba Aided Upper Primary School in Kozhikode district will run in the Collectorate, where the students are temporarily shifted as the Supreme Court order to shut down the school was executed forcefully. A similar situation is faced by students in the Mangattumury School in Malappuram and Palatt School in Kozhikode. At least 25 other schools around the state have requested the state government the permission to shut down. Most of the managements have moved to the court pointing the financial liabilities, where the government opposed the managers largely considering the public sentiment. The government’s appeal, pointing the provisions of Rule 6 (10) of the Kerala Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2011 went in vain as the Supreme Court recently defended the managers’ right to close down a school after submitting notice in advance to the education department, which is mandated by Kerala Education Rules.

In a state which surpassed its size by the literacy rate, the issue cannot be treated lightly. If the last government puzzled over the distribution of textbooks, the newly elected government faces the strenuous task of revamping education by accommodating students from the closed schools. Unless policies that can stabilize the educational sector in the long run are adopted, the closed schools will remain a signboard for the remaining ones.

(Author is a student at Hyderabad central University.)