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Education in Kerala

Sir, one of the important features regarding schools in many progressive countries is that the schools in general have a special relationship to the localities which they serve, so that the people of each locality can say that the school is theirs. They are proud of the school and they strive to see that the school is efficient with good buildings and equipment and efficient and contented staff, because it is the school for their own children. This relationship is very important for the healthy development of a school system. It is difficult to find this relationship in the school system in Kerala and perhaps in other parts of India.

The communal groups and other agencies which maintain schools may have special attachment to their own schools, but these schools have yet to develope the proper relationship to the localities to make them the schools of the respective localities.

It is unfortunate that the State schools, which are really the schools of the people have not yet developed this relationship. Of many of them, it may be said that they are ‘no-body’s schools’. One of the first steps to be taken is to foster the development of this relationship in the State schools. Two of the factors that can help the State schools in this direction are (1)Board of Directors (Board of Management) for each school which should include nominees of (a) the Government, (b) Local Education Authority, (c) Parents, (d) Old Boys. (2) The Headmaster and the staff should be appointed definitely for each school and they should not be transferred from school to school. The State schools should demonstrate in practice the educational ideals of the State.

Most of the other schools in Kerala have a history of growth through the efforts of communal organizations. These have served to spread education in the State and some of them have done excellent work in the past and continue to do so. With the increasing cost of running schools and the limited financial resources of the managements of these schools, many of them have reached a stage when maintenance of schools even at the present level is possible for them only with substantial aid from the State. On the other hand the country is on the threshold of important developments in education, the financial implications of which are beyond the reach of most of the private managements. Two of the main problems for the private schools, therefore, are (1) the need for developing in them the relationship to the respective localities which they serve, so that the people can feel that the schools are theirs- the schools for their children, (2) the lack of financial resources for maintaining and developing the schools efficiently according to the ideals set by the State.

Another aspect to be considered in this connection is that as free and compulsory education is provided, as required by the Constitution of India, the parents will have a right to expect good education for their children not depending on the charity or whims of communal or private Organisations. The Government should necessarily bear this in mind.

Recognising all these considerations, it would seem that the private schools should necessarily fit into a State-wide pattern of school system. It will be good if the school system can retain some of the valuable features of the private schools and at the same time eliminate the evils that have crept into them. The following may be a possible pattern of school system:-

1. STATE SCHOOLS with Boards of Managements for each school consisting of nominees of the State, Local Education Authorities, Parents and Old Boys.
2.AIDED SCHOOLS with Boards of Managements consisting of (a) half the members and the Chairman nominated by the present management, (b) nominees of the Local Education Authority, (c) Representatives of Parents (d) Representatives of Old Boys.
The entire school fees should be paid into the treasury and the full cost of salaries, pensions, equipments should be paid by the State and an annual grant should be given to the management for the maintenance of the school buildings, etc. This grant may be, say, two-thirds of the actual cost of maintenance.
3.CONTROLLED SCHOOLS: These will be the schools of Private managements which are prepared to hand over the schools to the State at least for a period-say ten years, the managements, however, desiring to retain some interest in the running of the schools.
The Board of management of these schools may consist of (a) one-third of the membership nominated by the old management ; (b) the rest consisting of nominees of the Local Education Authority and representatives of Parents and Old Boys. The entire fees should be paid into the treasury and the State should bear the entire cost of running the school.
4. INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS: These are schools which any Private agency may maintain either for cultural and educational ideals which can flourish best in an atmosphere of freedom. Pioneering work has often come through independent schools with ideals. These schools should be free to collect fees to meet the expenditure (The State may, at its discretion, give financial assistance to these schools.)Independent schools should have Boards of managements constituted by the Managements themselves. As education will be free up to the eighth standard in the State schools, Aided schools and Controlled schools; and as there will be free concessions in the higher classes also fee-paying Independent Schools can succeed only by their own worth.
It should be Possible for Aided schools and Independent Schools to provide Religious instruction according to the terms accepted in the Constitution of India.
With an arrangement of Boards of managements for all schools, the provision made in the Bill that the appointment of teachers should be from a panel given by the Local Education Authority should not be necessary. The Boards should be free to appoint teachers who are eligible according to the State Register of Teachers.
The method of appointment of Headmasters and the responsibilities given to them are important for the efficient running of schools. The Headmasters should have certain qualities which are not essential for a teacher and therefore the appointment of the Headmaster should be by selection and not by mere seniority.
In the selection of teachers for the schools, the Headmaster should have an effective voice.
These proposals are made on the assumption that the Government and managements have the same objective of providing sound education for the children and that there will be friendly co-operation and goodwill for achieving this common end.

Letter of the Editor by
SHRI K. KURUVILLA JACOB,
Headmaster, Christian College High School, Madras.
(The Hindu-17th July, 1957)