Nearly four lakh children today entered the portals of schools in Kerala by joining in the first standard as the academic year began after the summer vacation.

The occasion was celebrated as “Entrance Festival” throughout the State with schools being decked up with flowers, ribbons, balloons and buntings to cheer up the children who made their way to the class rooms with their parents.

Teachers welcomed the children offering sweets and their first day at school was all play and no work.

Addressing a gathering at a school here, Education Minister M. A. Baby said it would be ensured that all the children learnt Malayalam or their mother tongues like Tamil or Kannada in the border areas.

According to Mr. Baby, the State was truly proud of its achievements in education as it had already met most of the targets recently set as part of the “Right to Education Act.”

The State, however, should be rewarded by the Centre with a special incentive and financial packages for quality improvement, he said.

According to the State Economic Review, Kerala has a total of 12649 schools of which 4501 are government institutions, 7284 are aided schools and 864 unaided schools.