THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Around 3.5 lakh children entered the world of letters on the first day of the new academic year on Thursday, which was marked by colourful reception to the tiny tots in schools across the state.
The state-level inauguration of the ‘Praveshanolsavam’ programme, to welcome the newcomers to schools, was held at Government Upper Primary School, Ooroottambalam, near here. The selection of the school for the programme was significant as the institution was the focal point of an agitation for the right to education by the downtrodden sections of society, a century ago.
Similar programmes were also held in schools across the state under the aegis of the Central Government’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
Inaugurating the programme to welcome the newcomers to the world of letters, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the aim of the government is to ensure that students in government and aided schools acquire ‘world-class’ standards.
Pinarayi said the government alone will not be able to achieve the objective on its own. The active help of local bodies, Parent Teacher Associations, philanthropists and society at large should be ensured in raising the standards of schools.
Recalling the agitation spearheaded by social reformer Ayyankali from Ooroottambalam school following the denial of the right to education to a Dalit girl named Panchami a century ago, Pinarayi said such social discrimination was eventually wiped out. The first government of Kerala led by E M S Namboodiripad set up a number of schools in the public sector enabling the poor to pursue education at an institution close to his or her house, he added.
The Connect With History
Athira, a member of the fifth generation of the Dalit girl Panchami’s family, was among the newcomers this year to the Ooroottambalam school.
Local leaders, led by MLA I B Satheesh had visited Athira’s house and presented her with textbooks on the eve of the school reopening.
The institution was burnt down in the wake of protests after Panchami was not allowed to study with other children and was forced to sit in a shack outside the school building. The institution, formerly known as ‘Kandala Kudippallikoodam’, earned a place in history as the focal point of the agitation for educational rights of the downtrodden.