In a state that puts a premium on education, higher secondary students still find textbooks in short supply while basic amenities like toilets and proper roof are still a rarity in many government schools in Kerala. The irony is that in the face of such basic challenges, the state education department gets sidetracked by inane issues ranging from transfer of a headmistress for rubbing the minister the wrong way to putting up green boards instead of blackboards, an initiative being viewed with a communal tint, with the minister being from the Muslim League.
The minister felt the headmistress, a Dalit, had trained her guns on him for turning up hours late for a function when she spoke of the need not to waste study time. It took much persuasion from the Opposition benches and voluble criticism from the media to dispel the notion from the mind of the UDF government that the headmistress could be punished for not being in awe of him. However, the hapless teacher, with only months to go for retirement, had to suffer the ignominy of being shunted out to another school. Then, matters took a burlesque turn when a debate broke out regarding introduction of green boards being a reflection of the minister’s official party colour.
All this is happening in a department that has been plagued by huge doses of inertia on many fronts. In a state that saw the recent expulsion of a vice chancellor for dressing up his bio-data, the education minister has openly admitted that at least three other vice chancellors lack proper qualifications. The government stand that UGC regulations on appointment of vice chancellors are not binding on varsities can cost the state dear as that failure to comply with these guidelines could lead to withholding grants. Unless the state sets its house in order fast and imparts education at par with what is being done in other states, Kerala’s once regaled position as a resource pool of well educated youngsters will come under serious threat. That is, if it already has not.