Published: 23rd March 2022
Kerala: Meet this band of teachers that ensured the enrolment of almost 500 tribal students to Class 11
The tribal students had dropped out due to a dearth of seats in Class XI, a lack of internet connectivity that could inform them about their seat and low reservation for the community
Even as the enrolment of students for the Plus-One course for the 2021-2022 academic year was completed a long time back, 493 Scheduled Tribe students were admitted through a special order of the government, thanks to the efforts of a group of teachers at Government Higher Secondary School at Agali, Attappadi. The backwardness of the area and lack of transport options from their houses located far away from the schools used to make it difficult for the students of Attappadi to continue their education.
Attappadi block panchayat consists of three panchayats — Agali, Sholayur and Pudur. Sometimes, the students of Attappadi are allotted schools as far away as Cherpulassery for the Plus-One course. This leads to students dropping out, said T Sathyan, a Political Science teacher of Government HSS, Agali. There were not enough Plus-One seats in the schools in Mannarkad taluk. Therefore, the students in Mannarkad and its suburbs travel 40 kilometres to Attappadi and enrol in the schools there for Plus-One.
Naturally, the tribal students of Attappadi who secure lower marks do not get seats in the school near their hamlets due to the fact that, as per government norms, they are entitled to only 8 per cent reservation which results in them dropping out, he said. Office-bearers of the Parent-Teachers' Association (PTA) then met Minister for SC/ST Welfare K Radhakrishnan and requested him to allot one additional batch for the Plus-One course in Thenkara near Mannarkad, following which a new batch was allotted to the school in Thenkara.
Consequently, students from the vicinity could be accommodated there, making more seats vacant for Plus-One in Attappadi. Many students who dropped out as they could not leave Attappadi for schools outside were thus enrolled in these seats, said Sathyan. The teachers said to resolve the issue permanently, the number of reserved seats for tribal students should be raised in the schools of Attappadi as 50 per cent of the population in the area are tribals. Or else, at least 16 batches of the Plus-One course should be sanctioned in the schools in Mannarkad taluk.
"The Plus-One admission for the current academic year started on September 23, 2021, and was completed on January 22, 2022. We visited various tribal settlements in Attappadi and came to understand that many students had dropped out as they were unable to get admission to the local school. We then prepared a list of such students," said Dr PV Mohammed Kutty, another teacher. Teachers Dr Mohammed Kutty, Sathyan, V Nidhin and PK Benoy visited the hamlets and prepared the list of dropouts. Based on this, the School Management Committee and PTA office-bearers prepared a list of 40 students who had dropped out in Attappadi and met the ministers for the SC/ST welfare and general education and the State Child Rights Commission. The state government then issued a special order on February 11 this year and 493 tribal students secured admission in the Plus-One course in the districts of Palakkad, Idukki and Wayanad, in what was a month-long effort, according to Dr Mohammed Kutty. Among these, 40 students secured admission in Palakkad, while 61 students enrolled for the Plus-One course from Idukki. From Wayanad, the number stood at an impressive 392.
Under the single-window scheme for admission to Plus-One, once a student gets allotment to the higher secondary classes, they get only three days to join the school. The students in the faraway tribal settlements like Thudukki, Galasi, Murugala and Aanavaayi cannot be intimated by the school authorities in time as there is no mobile connectivity in these areas. Hence, these students get excluded from the allotment process. When they drop out, these students do not inform the school authorities. As their names have been registered in the single-window system, unless it is informed to the higher secondary directorate in Thiruvananthapuram and cancelled, they are unable to get admission in other schools. "Such students were identified by us and their names cancelled at the directorate and they were freshly enrolled. One tribal student from Chavadiyoor who had secured a full A+ in all subjects had dropped out. Now, he has secured admission at the Pudur HSS," he added.