Kerala school academic year begins tomorrow; 2.5 lakh students in Class 1

This year, there will be 2,44,646 new Class I students, 12,09,882 high school students, and 3,83,515 Plus Two students. Additionally, there are 28,113 students in vocational higher secondary schools.
School opening
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KOCHI: This year Ernakulam district will be playing host to the grand inauguration of Praveshanotsavam 2024 with a total of nearly 2.5 lakh beginning their school academic journey in Kerala on Monday.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will  inaugurate the 'Praveshanotsavam' at the Government Higher Secondary School at Elamakkara at Kochi. Praveshanotsavam is the state's signature event welcoming tiny tots and their fellow schoolmates to another academic year. 

While this year will see 2,44,646 children admitted to Class I, the high school has 12,09,882 students and 3,83,515 Plus Two students. There are 28,113 students in the vocational higher secondary schools in the state.

Addressing a news conference at the Govt Higher Secondary School, Elamakkara in Kochi, Education Minister V Sivankutty said the number of students in the Government Sector is 11,19,380, while it is 20,30,091 in the aided sector and 2,99,082 in the unaided sector.

He said the admission process to Higher Secondary and Vocational Higher Secondary has started. "The Plus One classes will start on June 24. However, the final data on the number of students in classes I to X will be available only by the second week of June and that of children including the higher secondary will be available only towards the end of June."

The minister also highlighted various initiatives that the general education department has initiated to improve the quality of the teaching-learning process in the schools under it. "Vacation teachers' training programme was conducted as part of curriculum reform. The training module focused on the revised textbooks, familiarising teacher text and their classroom exchange. The teachers are also being given a general idea of the Kerala Curriculum Framework 2023 (KCF-2023) which is subject-bound based on the approach and general objectives. A general understanding of health-sports education, vocational education and art education that has been included in the new curriculum was provided to all teachers. The teachers were also trained to identify various types of problems faced by children. They were also given awareness of laws like the POCSO and substance abuse."

Artificial Intelligence (AI) training

Around 80,000 high school and higher secondary school teachers from the school under the Department of Public Education were given practical training on artificial intelligence under the leadership of KITE, said the minister. "Already 20,266 high school and higher secondary teachers have completed the training in eight sessions. This is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the education sector in India. The equipment distributed as part of the hi-tech project is being utilized for this purpose."

Parent Teacher Committees

Regarding the functioning of the Parent Teacher Committees in the government and aided schools in the state, the minister said, "Revised guidelines have been issued regarding the functioning of Teacher Parent Committee in Government/Aided Schools in the State. Parents of all the students studying in the school in the respective academic year shall be PTA members and a general body of the committee will be held thrice every year."

He said the PTA fund should be collected from the parents during the admission and the amount deposited in the PTA account. "PTA membership is mandatory for all parents annually. The membership fee is payable at the time of admission of the student or in the first month of the academic year. The per capita rate of membership fee is Rs 10 per category for Lower Primary, Rs 25 for upper primary, Rs 50 for high school and Rs 100 for the higher secondary sections," said the minister. The students belonging to the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and those from economically backward categories need not pay the PTA fee.

Functioning of Smart Classes

The minister directed the high-level committee comprising the IT Principal Secretary, Technical University Vice Chancellor, Kite CEO and the Department of Education to conduct a study on streamlining the conduct of smart classes and submit a report at the earliest.

"A total of 45,000 classrooms in the state's schools have been made smart classes using hi-tech systems. The system includes a camera, projector and a monitor to aid in the teaching-learning process. The schools have been directed to ensure that the systems are working effectively," said the minister. According to the minister, it has been decided to organize an adalat in all 14 districts to settle files pending in the general education department. The adalaths will be held in three zones. The public will have an opportunity to submit applications and resolve issues.

Adalat dates are as follows.

Zone-1 comprising Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode and Wayanad districts :
Saturday 20 July
Zone-2 comprising Malappuram, Palakkad and Thrissur districts on Saturday 27th July
Zone 3 comprising Ernakulam, Idukki, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kollam, and Thiruvananthapuram on August 3 Saturday

Auditing of educational institutions

Speaking about the auditing of the educational institutions that are functioning without approval, the minister said, "Around 1,200 educational institutions are operating under other boards with the approval of the state government. According to the government order dated May 22, 2019, the norms for recognition of unaided schools working under the state syllabus in the state have been issued. Government Order dated March 1, 2019 guidelines for accreditation of CBSE and ICSE Schools
Given as follows. Only those institutions adhering to the RTE Act 2099 and Kerala Education Rules will be approved."

Entrance Coaching and Fees

The minister said that it has come to the notice that coaching institutes have mushroomed all over the state. "These entrance coaching institutes are charging exorbitant fees. These institutions are operating without government approval. There are no common standards or unified guidelines to monitor the functioning of these institutions. Many of our children are getting registered in these institutes. So the state government is thinking of formulating a general policy to prevent such institutions from fleecing the students," said the minister.

Collection of fees in the unaided sector

The minister said that the state government has taken a policy decision to prepare a uniform fee structure in the unaided sector. "Also committees have been formed at the school, district and state levels to monitor the decisions like the fee structure and collection. Parents can submit fee-related complaints to their respective committees and the said committees will look into the complaints and resolve them," said the minister.

To improve academic standards

The minister said that to improve the academic standards, the general education department had organized an educational conclave to discuss the introduction of a minimum marks system. "During the conclave, the education department emphasised the objective of improving the quality of school education. For that, a comprehensive quality plan and learning support plan are being implemented at the primary level. This phase also requires modification of the evaluation process. Our state has also implemented the All Promotion policy with a broad objective of preventing student dropouts. However, it is thought that this win-win policy has seriously affected the evaluation process."

He said it has been twenty years since the assessment reform. "Many examination boards have tried and implemented many methodologies during this period. Hence, it becomes important to come up with reforms based on these 20 years of experience. Another fact that makes it important to go ahead with reforms in the mode of evaluation is the
poor performance of students studying the state syllabus in entrance examinations conducted at the national level

In the case of the SSLC, at present a student getting 30 per cent marks or a D plus grade in each subject through continuous assessment and written examination qualifies for higher studies, said the minister. "Marks obtained in the written test do not hold much importance to pass the examination since most of the children get full marks through continuous assessment. This raises doubts as to whether our children who qualify for higher education are acquiring the basic competencies envisaged by the curriculum," he added.

Special Enrichment Programme

It is a unique scheme designed by the General Education Department per the geographical characteristics of Kerala. "Special education programme for children in tribal, coastal and plantation areas is being implemented in schools in these special areas which require special attention," said the minister.

Focus School

As part of the General Education Protection Plan, though the schools in the state have been doing well in the physical and academic fields, some schools are still finding it difficult to get students and the numbers are very low. It can be assumed that the poor student strength in these schools continues due to a lack of adequate attention. "Focus is a project that aims at hand-holding and improving the status of such schools in the government sector that have less than 25 students," added the minister.

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