Access and Retention

Government of Kerala has adopted an integrated approach in the implementation of the various Centrally Sponsored Schemes. The state has created a single administrative structure for SSA and RMSA to promote a school sector wide strategy stressing on enhancing quality of primary and secondary education as envisioned in Pothuvidyabhyasa Samrakshana Yajnam (General Education Protection Campaign) initiated by Government of Kerala. The Integrated Scheme on School Education envisages the school as a continuum from pre-school, primary, upper primary, secondary to Higher Secondary levels. The vision of the Scheme is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education from pre-school to Higher Secondary stage in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for Education. .

Government of Kerala is committed to the constitutional obligation to ensure quality universal education for our children. It is, therefore, critical to strongly reaffirm the importance of public education in the state. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act makes it obligatory on part of the state government and local bodies to ensure that every child gets education in a school in the neighbourhood.

RTE Act lays down norms and standards relating to Pupil-Teacher-Ratios (number of children per teacher), classrooms, separate toilets for girls and boys, drinking water facility, number of school-working days, working hours of teachers, etc. Each and every elementary school (Primary school + Middle School) in India has to comply with these minimum standard set by the RTE Act. Kerala has achieved an average PTR ratio of 20:1 which is better than the mandate. It means that on average there is one teacher for twenty students. The state government draws a distinction between the division-based PTR ratio of 45:1 in Kerala and the 30-35:1 ratio mandate for the entire school, since the state has already achieved better than the required mandate for overall PTR. The infrastructure facilities in most of the schools have already been developed according to the standards laid down in the RTE Act. However, faced with the difficulty of allocating funds for construction and deployment of teachers as per the elementary classification of the RTE Act, the Kerala government order states that upper primary schools with Class V will be designated as lower and upper primary schools, and high schools with class VIII will be designated as upper primary and high schools, which is in deviation of class I to V as lower primary and Class VI to VIII as upper primary.

The state has already achieved the universalization of education up to 16 years of age and has taken steps in the direction of providing free education till higher secondary levels. The provisions of the RTE Act, in such situations, cause administrative problems and create additional expenses for the state. Right to Education Act (RTE) mandates quality education for all children of below 14 years. This consists of different groups according to their age, such as pre-school, primary school, upper primary school etc. Children below 6 years are considered as pre-school children from 6 to 11 years ( std I- V) as primary school children and 11 to 14 ( std VI- VIII) as upper primary school children respectively.

RTE demands that there should be primary schools within 1 km and upper primary within 3 km respectively from the residential area of students. So the Government, as stated in RTE, should ensure the provision of schooling facility within the stipulated distance limit without fail.

Although Kerala has made remarkable achievement with universalization of elementary education, access to quality infrastructure is still an issue. As per RTE, SSA, Kerala has done GIS Mapping of Schooling Access in all the habitations in the State, both at primary and upper primary levels at panchayath level. Based on GIS Mapping, distance to the neighbourhood school was calculated. It is found there are 3654children in different habitation eligible for getting escort facilities. Details of GIS Mapping can be found at www.ssakerala.in/gis. As there is no school in these habitations, the children have to cover a distance of 5 kilometers or more. But presently, there is no permanent solution for meeting the transportation facilities of these children. Hence SSA proposes Rs 3000/ as escort allowance as an earmark device for school enrolment of children residing at remote areas.

Children belonging to backward communities in forest areas lack school facilities. Govt of Kerala through its new educational renovation mission Pothuvidyabhyasa Samrakshana Yajnam (General Education Protection Campaign) addresses these issues of the state. Primary schools: - 1 Km Upper Primary schools : - 3 Km