Study finds surfeit of ‘non-formal’ institutions

Special Correspondent

‘Enrolment of the poor in higher education low’

‘State failed to improve quality of schooling’

KOCHI: A study by the Kochi-based Centre for Socio-Economic and Environmental Studies has found that surfeit of ‘non-formal’ educational institutions in the State has driven out the ‘inclusive’ nature of the ‘Kerala model’ of development.

The study notes that different types of unaided schools (those recognised by the State government, CBSE or ICSE and those which are not recognised by any Central or State agency) form more than one-fourth of the total number of schools in the State. Another phenomenon in the education sector is the rapid increase in the number of ‘non-formal’ educational institutions.

The study points out, on the basis of earlier studies, that there are several non-financial entry barriers in the State’s education system. The students of government schools and rural schools find it difficult to get admission to professional courses. First generation students whose parental education is low are not finding it easy to get admission. The huge disparities in the educational standards at the school level are a major factor contributing to the strengthening of the entry barriers. The entrance test is yet another entry barrier. While entrance tests are praised for providing a common yardstick for comparing students from diverse schools with different grading standards, no decision has been taken by the government to remove the existing bias in the entrance tests or to make them more effective in assessing the aptitude of students and in measuring their abilities in completing the course successfully.

Micro level studies have pointed out that enrolment of the poor in higher education is very low in Kerala.

The share of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) in enrolment in unaided schools recognised by the State government in 2007-08 was just 3.3 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively. As against this, the share of these groups in enrolment in government schools is much higher at 13.5 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively.

In aided schools, the share of SC and ST in enrolment is 10.5 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively. It is also to be noted that SC/ST students lag behind in their performance in the SSLC examinations.

The study argues that the exclusionary trends got strengthened due to the failure of the State to improve the quality of schooling and increase the intake capacity of professional education institutions when the demand for better quality schooling and professional education was growing.

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