What will be the effects of the
Kerala Education Bill which has been passed despite opposition
both within and outside the State legislature? Will it
lead to more efficient running of schools and speedier
spread of education in the State? Direct answers to these
questions are not contained in the Bill’s provisions
several of which have been substantially modified. Teachers,
perhaps, may have a better deal and it may no longer be
possible for private agencies to mismanage schools. But
legal sanctions are not nearly enough. The system itself
must be revitalized and those engaged in the administration
of education must develop a new spirit to be able to give
a new meaning to what is taught in schools. It is, therefore,
not the Bill that is of major importance but the way its
provisions are implemented. The opposition’s fears
and misgivings about the Bill’s aims have to a large
extent been allayed by the Government’s assurance
that the advisory boards at the State and district levels
are not intended to enable communists to control education.
If these bodies consist mainly of educationalists connected
with schools and are not chosen because of their political
affiliations, they should be able to act as a healthy
link between educational institutions and the Government.
Since at the same time they are expected to help in the
conduct of the mid-day meal scheme and the organization
of conferences and exhibitions, they can bring the people
and the schools into closer contact. It would have been
more reassuring had the Government decided to constitute
the State advisory board on an all-party basis with a
number of legislators on it. Such aboard could have been
entrusted with the task of ensuring that the Bill resulted
in no hardship to anyone and that the powers taken under
it by the Government were in no way abused or misused.
The State Government has been careful enough to see that
its intentions are not suspected. It can now disarm all
opposition to the measure by making provision for supervision
of its implementation by an all-party board.
Another controversial issue relates to the preparation
of teacher’s lists. Even after the passage of the
Bill it is not very clear what advantage will be gained
by keeping lists of qualified teachers. If qualifications
for different grades of teachers are laid down school
managements can themselves be expected to select only
those who are eligible for appointment as teachers. The
drawing up of lists by the Public Service Commission can
be of help in a situation where rules are flouted by managements
and qualifications are ignored. Does the provision imply
that such conditions prevail in the State’s School?
Only if they do can the proposed system benefit education.
A welcome provision in the Bill is the one enjoining on
the Government to make education compulsory for children
between the ages of six and 14 within ten years. Kerala
is already Ahead of other States where education is concerned.
If this scheme is enforced the state will be able to claim
a distinct position in the country. It may, however, be
hoped that those who come out of schools at the age of
14 do not swell the ranks semi-educated unemployed. It
is to avoid such a development that the reorganization
of education at all stages has been under taken. Kerala
will have to have large numbers of multi-purpose secondary
schools to absorb at least a percentage of those turned
out of junior schools at the age of 14. The State Government
has already introduced a measure which would enable it
tot change Kerala University into a federal and teaching
university. The reform is in line with progressive ideas.
But to be really effective it must be co-ordinated with
the system of education at all stages.
Times-5th September, 1957)