KOZHIKODE:Started almost three decades ago with the objective of empowering backward communities in the state by providing quality education to their wards, the Model Residential Schools (MRS) have failed to serve the purpose. Designed in line with the Central Government’s Navodaya schools, the MRS can’t boast of even one achiever who won accolades for the school. Apart from a dismal performance in academics, the children are ostracised in the name of caste tags attached to their names, say educationists.
Though the pass percentage of students from Scheduled Communities in high schools and higher secondary schools has increased remarkably in the past few years, only a negligible section of students excel in their post-secondary education, when compared to their counterparts from other communities.
It is observed that due to inadequate mentoring in schools, SC/ST students who obtain equivalent or similar qualifications don’t get adequate exposure or knowledge which has a negative impact on learner outcomes.
MRS were started by the Scheduled Castes Development Department, under the stategovernment, to provide quality secondary education for students belonging to Scheduled Castes. There are nine such schools in Kerala which are different from those run by Scheduled Tribes Development Department with a similar objective. Admission is given from class five, based on the marks the student obtains in the state-level entrance examination. Though an ‘entrance test’ is mandatory, those who fail to score too are entitled to admission.Each student gets Rs 2,000 per month for food alone and other academic expenses are also met by the state government. Though meant for students from Scheduled Castes, 30 to 40 per cent of the students hail from OBC/ST communities.
Teachers are expected to reside in the school, to offer maximum help and support to students.
However, many schools are inadequately equipped to accommodate resident teachers. In Kozhikode, the MRS is functioning in a rented building in Ulliyeri, paying an exorbitant rent of nearly Rs 1.5 lakh per month.“Mostly the students hail from humble backgrounds often poorer than those of their counterparts in other government/aided schools. Majority of the parents are first generation literates, who cannot provide effective mentoring for their children in terms of their education. Students and parents are not aware of the possible options in post-secondary education. Unlike other government/aided schools, a peer-level
interaction among MRS students is limited since they hail from backgrounds where their parents have very low social capital,” said Centre for Research & Education for Social Transformation (CREST) associate programme coordinator Vinod Krishnan, who has been part of the projects aimed at empowering students from MRS.“The performance of students in MRS is not on the level of expectation, with only a small segment obtaining good results when compared to their counterparts in government or aided schools. In common with practices in schools in Kerala, responsibilities of MRS students end with the completion of high school/secondary examinations and schools do not maintain details of higher education enrollment of the alumni. However, schools have observed that only a very small segment of their passouts end up in tertiary education which is in accordance with parental/student aspirations,” he added.Despite the fact that MRS provide better facilities for students conducive for learning outside their homes, the typical high school student in MRS is a ‘weak student’ with less motivation, teachers observe. Owing to this reason, seats remain unfilled at the time of admission in the schools as many don’t find the school worth to attend.
Except Idukki and Kasargod, the medium of instruction in MRS is Malayalam. It is Tamil and Kannada in Idukki and Kasargod, respectively. At the Plus Two level, English is the medium of instruction in all schools. Nonetheless, even in English medium schools, classes are held mostly in Malayalam owing to the poor English language proficiency of students.