Kerala was supposed to be much ahead in the health and educational sectors. But the State has slid considerably in both the sectors. How do we regain our lost glory? Our readers respond:
Adapt to change
Focussed and active state interventions in the 1960s and 70s enabled Kerala to achieve high standards in education and health. Subsequently, the rapid social and economic changes in society necessitated adoption of different strategies and models that successive Governments failed to implement.
The huge investments in education enabled the efforts to ensure widespread enrolment and achieve functional literacy for large sections of the population. However, the inability of the political class to adapt to the local and global changes and to meet the growing aspirations and requirements of the people led to dilution of quality in government schools, which came to be patronised mostly by the poorer sections of society.
Expansion and modernisation of infrastructure, revision of curriculum and training of teachers would help in restoring the credibility and reputation of state-controlled educational institutions. The paucity of funds can be addressed by encouraging the corporate sector to sponsor facilities in schools by extending suitable tax concessions.
The decline is historically inevitable. Prior to the formation of linguistic states, Part A States had reasonably efficient governance, inherited from the British. This was very much eroded when the State of Kerala was formed. Consequent on globalisation initiatives, money power came into prominence. On November 2, 1956 there was only one private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram. Now there are about a hundred. The private sector has over run the public sector, ruining the middle class seeker of medical aid. A parallel can be perceived in the educational sector also. Government schools are dwindling. Private schools demand exorbitant fees and donations. This can be rectified only by bridling in the private sector.
Socialism remains an empty word in the constitution of the Federal Republic of India. We should strive to bring it down to the doorstep of every citizen.
Dr. P.K.R. Warrier
No free meals
Whenever the Left Democratic Front is in the saddle, there is interference into the affairs of private management who have brought up the level of both health and education to a satisfactory level, The Government itself can not organise the sectors as there are many factors beyond its control.
Sensible political parties in power must understand that the population is multiplying by leaps and bounds. It is not possible to provide free education or treatment to the growing population. The LDF Government must boldly discard their ideology and try to face the problems by adopting such necessary measures to solve the problem in a smooth manner.
Education cannot be free for all because if the Government must face the fact that even student from the poorest of the poor pays a huge sum every month to their tuition masters. If the Government charges a reasonable fee and improve the standards of teaching in Government-run schools then there will be vast improvement.
Similar is the case of hospitals where treatment is free. But patients are forced to please the Government medical officers if the are to be attended well in hospitals. Taking into consideration that there is a fast growing population, the Government alone cannot treat people free of charge.
Some personnel in Government hospitals come under the Health Department and others come under the city corporations. This should change. All personnel should be brought under the Health Department. There must be a central authority under the health department to check whether Government hospitals are utilising their funds properly. Shortage of personnel should also be addressed. More funds should be allocated for enhancing hospital facilities. Computerisation of hospitals would speed up routine work. Also, there should be a system to address public grievances. The introduction of grading system has changed the face of traditional education system in Kerala. But the changing Governments failed to keep up the standard of higher education. All those concerned should immediately arrive at a consensus on the issue of self-financing colleges. More research centres should be set up and research activities promoted in a large scale. Steps to provide free education to all children at least up to class X should be taken.
Deepa Nair M.S.
The much talked about and much hailed Kerala model is in a sorry and sordid state now.
The State's literacy, health care, public distribution system etc, which were models in every aspect are now shatters. The public and the politicians seem to be too indulged in politics and nothing else. Unethical bandhs, harthals and strikes have spoiled the texture of the society. The systems should be revived. The health and education sectors should be retained in the public sector atleast for the time being. Otherwise, the plight of the man on the street will be pathetic
R. Narayana Iyer
A distinguishing feature of Kerala's development experience in the post independence period was low levels of per capita income and high levels of human development in terms of health and education.
The State's welfare measures were a major factor that favoured the Kerala model. Decentralisation was also a major factor that favoured the development of the Kerala model.
Gramasabha should be more empowered. Health and education schemes should be implemented through the grama sabhas.
The Government should make sure that all corporates in the State should take up corporate social responsibility projects.
This is a topic that merits serious introspection. We possess a centuries-old system of medicine Ayurveda tried and tested to suit our conditions. We have not put Ayurveda to proper use. Instead, we embrace the Allopathic system. This is partially due to the fact that our education is `west-oriented.' Our education system should be revamped as it has a direct impact on a lot of things.
Capt. R.K. Iyer
Commercialism in education is gaining ground in the State. There is a clear segregation between the privileged and the under privileged in our society. This trend is looming. It should be checked. We need a socialistic approach in schooling. The quality of teaching and learning should be improved by appointing trained graduates as teachers. They should be aware of the latest advancements in education technology. Creativity in children should be nurtured. Spoon-feeding of any sort should be discouraged. Whenever a child requires assistance, all teachers should be ready to render it. Each school should have a well-set library, laboratory and information technology centre. It is necessary to include health education in the curriculum. In the health front, there should be a thorough change. The State should not withdraw from the health sector and Government hospitals should be well equipped. The poor and the deserving should be able to get all the expensive tests done there. This would bring about a sense of social security and the health index would be good.
Work in tandem
Both the Government and the Public are to be blamed for the deterioration of matters relating to health in our State. Our health conditions will improve if cleanliness becomes a matter of utmost importance to individuals as well as the governing bodies. Cleanliness, which was a way of our life and was associated with our culture, is fast disappearing. Clean cities like Singapore enforce strict rules and levy fines for littering. If we cannot teach the public not to strew waste around us, fines are the only solution. The Government must provide proper garbage disposal units for each village town and city and ensures that garbage is removed twice daily. Those Government agencies that do not take this job seriously should be taken to task. Schools, offices, hotels, shopping complexes, hospitals and industries should take the initiative in making the world plastic-free. Separate collection of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste should be implemented. The advantages of that should be instilled in the minds of the people.
Burning plastics and polluting water bodies should made punishable offences. Conduct classes at the grass-roots level as to how waste can be disposed by biodegradable methods. Encourage people to report violation of garbage disposal norms.
If the public and the Government work in tandem, the State can get back its lost glory.
Kerala with its very high literacy and appreciably reducing birth and infant
mortality rates used to draw world attention. The State was
an example of how demographic transition was possible without altering standards of living. Kerala was one of the States in India where very strong health awareness prevailed. That was slowly and steadily built on a solid foundation of Health Education. The health education component is the weakest one now and it requires strengthening. Personal hygiene, proper sanitation and nutrition are areas, which no society can ignore if it wants a high-profile health status.
C. Ramaswamy Chettiar
Kerala's health sector, once world class, is in shambles now. What ails the present system? One need not be an astute scholar or a researcher to find out the problems and the possible solutions. The main problem is the lack of good doctors in our rural hospitals with adequate specialisation. The Government has made it mandatory that all new graduates from medical colleges should undertake rural service. This does not solve the problem. The pay is very poor and work load too heavy. There is also an acute lack of infrastructure and facilities at rural health centres. Without trying to correct all these no solution can be found to this problem. If all the said points are corrected there will be no dearth of talent in our rural hospitals. Kerala's common man is suffering from an increasing incidence of life style diseases and fever related illnesses due to lack of cleanliness of our surroundings. A concerted effort by the Government, local bodies and a media campaign is essential to correct these problems at the grass- roots level. People in Kerala are very particular about personal cleanliness but are least concerned about public hygiene.
The occurrence of chikunguniya in Pathanamthitta district is due to rainwater accumulation in rubber sap collection cups. The bunds at Thanneermukkom etc has made the natural maintenance of the Kuttanad ecosystem non functional.
The saline water that used to enter during summer months would have acted as a natural defence against microbes. In the education front, there is a dearth of infrastructure.
The lost glory of the State can be restored if the Government acts with a will and keeps in mind long-term goals. Private investment can be welcomed as the Government lack funds. Revenue collection should be made efficient and tax evasion should be dealt with punitively. Petty politics should be left out and a concerted and sincere effort from our leaders is a must for this.
Dr. Deepu Philip Mathew
Health and education are two pre-requisites for any society. Unfortunately, both are now unaffordable for the common man in Kerala.Government hospitals put up a poor show, whereas private hospitals charge the patients heavily. In the case ofeducation, students who do not even qualify in entrance examinations are able to pursue their higher studies due to reservations andwealth.Merit and talent are being ignored. As a result, the efficiency level of students has deteriorated.Admissions to quality schools right from the kindergarten level to the higher secondary classes are formal and expensive.
Education is being slowly transformed into a commodity, which can be sold. Thsi is a dangerous trend that should be stopped. Both the sectors in the State have to undergo a complete revamp. The departments concerned, local bodies, non-governmental organisations etc must initiate necessary steps immediately. The general publica lso get involved in the process by giving necessary inputs.