Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Monday, Apr 23, 2007

Survey evokes mixed reaction

Staff Reporter

Performance in elementary education

  Baby says State always accorded highest priority to education

  Kerala below national average in higher education: N.A. Karim

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The emergence of Kerala as the top performing State in elementary education in the country as per the survey carried out by the National University for Educational Planning and Administration recently has evoked mixed reactions from the political and official circles in the State.

Welcoming the survey result, Minister for Education M.A. Baby said the State has always accorded the highest priority to the education sector. Even the amount that should have been allotted to other sectors such as bio-technology, tourism and information technology are being set apart for education. "But this has indirectly affected the State when it comes to seeking financial assistance from the Central Government for the education sector," he said. Citing the State's developed status they (Central Government) accord priority to backward States such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Baby said.

A view also backed by the former Education Minister E.T. Mohammed Basheer. "Delhi (Central Government) always look at us as a developed State," he said. According to him the State has a firm base in elementary education laid down by previous governments. "Our enrolment rate is nearly 100 per cent. The drop-out rate is negligible and the quality of education too have gone high with the implementation of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. Moreover, both the Government and private sectors are aware about the importance of education," he said.

However Mr. Basheer felt that the higher education sector in the State leaves a lot to be desired. The national survey, which covered a total of 11,24,033 schools in 35 States had taken into account access, infrastructure, teacher and outcome indicators to compute the Educational Development Index.

M. Sivasankar, director, Public Instruction. said the survey does not offer any room for complacency. "We have a good mechanism in place. But there are still a number of problem areas. In places such as Tirunelli in Wayanad children have to walk up to eight kilometres to reach the school," he said. Mr. Sivasankar also stressed the need to identify specific projects such as post literacy activities, and English education to get funds from Centre.

Noted educationist N.A. Karim said Kerala fares below the national average when it comes to higher education.


 THE HINDU, 23 April, 2007