Kerala student unions protest alleging Class XI seat shortage

Kerala Education Minister in the state assembly has denied the allegations saying there was no crisis
Kerala Students Union protests, demands probe into NEET-UG exam results
Kerala Students Union protests, demands probe into NEET-UG exam results(ANI photo)

Activists of Kerala Students' Union (KSU) and the Muslim Students' Federation (MSF) on June 24, Monday continued to protest across Kerala against the alleged shortage of Class XI seats in North Kerala schools, even as General Education Minister V Sivankutty stated in the state assembly that there was no crisis, as stated in a report by ANI.

The agitation by the student organisations of the Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League turned violent in a few places. The student outfits held the protest marches as opposition parties in the Kerala Assembly came down heavily on the Left government over the issue.

The opposition accused the government of failing to resolve the issues related to the alleged shortage of plus-one seats in schools in northern Kerala.

Minister's denial

However, Sivankutty said there was no shortage of seats in the region, and the protests by the opposition parties began even before the completion of the first allotment of seats. As the matter was being mentioned inside the Assembly, KSU and MSF activists marched towards the legislative complex but were blocked by the police.

At Kollam, the opposition student organisations marched to the District Collectorate, where the activists pelted stones at police and attempted to jump the barricade. Additionally, the activists also destroyed banners, flex boards, and other items along the road near the collectorate in Kollam, forcing the police to fire many rounds of smoke grenades to disperse the violent protesters.

At the Assembly march, police resorted to using water cannons to disperse the KSU workers who attempted to jump barricades. KSU and MSF activists also protested in Kozhikode, Wayanad, and Malappuram districts against the state government.

Response in assembly

In a reply to the submission filed by Left member and former minister Ahamed Devarkovil in connection with the plus-one seats for Malappuram, Sivankutty said last year a total of 4,952 seats were vacant in that district.

"There are a total of 80,670 seats available in Malappuram, which includes 71,456 seats in the higher secondary sector, 2,850 in vocational higher secondary, 5,484 seats in ITI sector and 880 in polytechnics," Sivankutty said. The students are also enrolling in SCOLE-Kerala, (State Council for Open and Lifelong Education - Kerala), a state-run Open School system, he added.

"Last year, there were 12,895 students under SCOLE-Kerala. The protest had started even before the first allotment of seats and without considering these facts," Sivankutty told the media.

Sharing the present status of the number of seats and the applicants, the minister told the Assembly that of the 82,466 applicants in Malappuram District, 4,352 have secured admission in other districts. "This leaves 78,114 applicants. Among these, 4,492 students have secured admissions through various management, community, and sports quotas, and 7,054 have not taken any higher secondary admissions," he added.

Sivankutty further said that till now, 53,762 have secured admission, of which, 51,451 are in higher secondary and 2,311 are in vocational higher secondary. He said that even though there is a shortage in the higher secondary sector, there are 10,185 seats vacant in the unaided schools.

"The government is of the opinion that not even one student should have difficulty pursuing education. We are ready for any compromise in order to ensure education for children. This is not about winning or losing. This is about the education of children," he said.

The minister also said a meeting of the student organisations has been called for today (Tuesday, June 25), and the government will explain the status to them and dispel the misconceptions.

Protests and strikes

"The protest began even before the first allotment. This was due to a misconception and also to a political motive. But we need to discuss the matter on its merit," he added.

The minister said that the 14 additional batches shifted to Malappuram last year and the 84 temporary additional batches that were created along with them would continue this academic year too.

Meanwhile, KSU on Monday, June 24 declared a strike in colleges across Kerala, alleging that the government was attacking its cadres using police force. For the past two days, the KSU and the MSF have been staging widespread protests across the state and have waved black flags at Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Sivankutty.

Meanwhile, plus one classes began in 2,076 government, aided and unaided schools across the state on Monday, June 24, as stated in a report by PTI.

The Left government has been facing flak over the seat shortage issue after a girl student in Parappanangadi in Malappuram district in the region died by suicide on June 11, allegedly over anxiety about whether she would get a seat for plus-one (Class XI) to continue her studies. The KSU has been organising protests demanding that additional plus-one batches be accommodated in schools in Malabar.

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