The Kerala government is still struggling to come up with a formula to execute the education ministry’s plan for 134 new schools with plus one courses, along with 100 more to be upgraded and 200 additional batches to be allotted in existing schools. The hurried move, slated to cost the state exchequer about `300 crore now and `850 crore annually in the long run, has been questioned as it comes three months after the Class 10 results. Absolving the government of any wrongdoing would be the high court directive that schools be allowed deeper penetration in 148 gram panchayats in the state.
Allegations are flying thick and fast regarding the commercial aspect of setting up such schools, where each teacher appointment would fetch the management `30 lakh-`40 lakh. Given that 36,000 seats would be created, that will translate into about 1,000 fresh posts for teachers, making clear the scope for the kind of money that can be made at the grassroots in future. The present plan to appoint guest teachers in aided schools may soon give way to permanent appointments as the earlier arrangement after a while will start impacting students.
Given the scope and range for realising an astronomical return on investment, the eagerness of wannabe school managements belonging to various communities to own such milch cows is understandable. It is a moot question as to what is to be done with the 64,000 seats that have no students now. The issue has become so politically charged that the party mouthpieces of both the Congress and Muslim League, both allies in the UDF government, have come out with strong editorials against each other. Opinion is sharply divided within the government even now, but none is able to bell the cat, as the IUML has made it amply clear that they won’t hesitate to pull the plug on the UDF government, if push comes to shove.