“I got A Plus for all my subjects, I do not know nor understand why I couldn’t secure a seat.”, says Diya, a student who passed out with flying colors.
This is the case among many students in Kerala, after the second allotment results were published. A total of 4.65 lakh students had applied for Plus One seats through the single window admission process, of which a whopping number of 1.96 lakh students have not been allotted seats. The fact that there are only 655 seats left statewide has left parents and students in distress.
“My daughter Sahwa, scored full A plus for SSLC, so it was totally unexpected that she didn’t secure a seat. She applied to several schools, even to those very far away from where we live, in hopes of getting allotted (after being excluded in both the trial and first allotment) but it was in vain. We are tense about the future of our kids, they worked so hard for their tenth, only to be punished with exclusion.” Sareena, a parent in despair who represents thousands of others in a similar state, told Maktoob.
Education minister V. Shivankutty in a press release told parents not to worry, and to apply for supplementary allotment. Parents, however, are unconvinced and are saying that his claims are unrealistic and impractical, as there are not enough seats to accommodate all passouts.
“There’s a huge difference in the ratio of seats available to the number of kids excluded, and even for supplementary allotment, I am skeptical about getting allotted as the competition will be high because of seat shortage,” says Rifa, another full A+ pass out.
Students are forced to pay to acquire seats that are available through the management quota. In aided schools, the total number of seats via the community and management quotas and after the estimated increase of seats (from transfers etc), will equal 68,200 seats only. This would still leave 1.27 lakh out of the 1.96 lakh students out.
The only way left for these students is to enroll in unaided schools. Students from struggling families would not be able to continue their education, as they cannot afford the high fees levied by private unaided schools.
“The government is proving that marks don’t matter anymore, our good grades couldn’t help us secure seats,” Finana, a passout from Kannur said to Maktoob. “The only thing that can help us now is to pay our way towards education, which is expensive and is not an affordable option. Only those with money can pay the hefty fee for a seat in the management quota or enroll their child in a private school. What will the rest of us do?,” she asks.
The government has intimated that the only way left for students who did not get allotment in aided schools this time, is to enroll via the Open School option.
Because of a shortage of batches in each subject stream, students are forced to apply for and study subjects they aren’t interested in.
“I was interested in taking commerce for my higher secondary, but even though I applied to a couple of schools, I couldn’t get allotment,” continued Finana, “The government is belittling our dreams and ambitions, and giving it little value.”
Finana’s words echo the sentiment of students statewide, even of those who got allotment but for subject streams they aren’t even interested in.
The Education minister refused to sanction more higher secondary batches in government-aided schools, divulging that the state is financially incapable to do so. Despite promising a place for all passouts, there has been no action so far by the government to increase seats.
“The thing is, there is no use of just increasing seats. Increasing the number of seats would mean cramming a lot of students into one classroom, which is an undesirable outcome. Students would not be able to efficiently learn in such an environment,” said Thashreef KP, secretariat member of the Fraternity Movement Kerala. “This is not a viable solution to the issue we have at hand, and is inadequate, as we’ve seen. This is a tactic of the government to not spend a penny for the sake of students’ education,” he adds.
In August, Fraternity Movement had been valiantly rallying statewide for extra batches and seats. They organised rallies to various sites of importance, including the minister’s office, state/district high courts, collectorates etc. Fraternity Movement activists had been arrested, detained, manhandled, and cracked down upon by the state while the series of protests were taking place.
This is not a new issue.
Thashreef points out that this is not a new problem. “Last year, 47,899 students had enrolled in Open School after not getting admission in schools. A majority of 70% of these students disproportionately came from Palakkad to Kasargod districts, which proves that the education infrastructure in the region is especially scant,’ he told Maktoob. “The difference this time is that there is a larger number of students who passed out with great grades. It is the failure from the government’s side to ensure seats for all of these eligible candidates which led to this unacceptable circumstance.”
There are several ways to solve this problem, including setting up new Higher Secondary batches in schools, he says. Upgrading existing High Schools to Higher Secondary schools would also be a feasible solution, according to the data they gathered from Malappuram district.
Fraternity Movement leader said they are restarting the series of protest rallies in vehemence against the exclusion of these students from their right to education as well as working with students and parents to help them seek a practical solution to the problem at hand.
Opposition spar in Assembly over the lack of seats.
On October 4th, congress led UDF walked out of the Assembly, criticizing the government’s failure to ensure Plus One seats for students. “The minister has instead guaranteed more Plus One seats for private schools to tide over the crisis of the government’s own making”, said V.N Satheeshan, Leader of Opposition.
Congress legislator Shafi Parambil, said that the government could use the public money splurged on rented helicopters and expensive vehicles to sanction more Plus One batches.
Even though the Education Minister Sivankutty said the government would address anomalies in Plus One admission and seat allocation at the time, there has been no practical action taken till date.
What lies ahead for these qualified students is uncertain at this point.