No new batches for Plus One leave students anxious

Admission in a course or school of their choice may remain a dream for many

The government decision not to allow new batches in higher secondary schools citing additional financial burden has come as a blow to students and parents.

The high pass percentage (99.47%) in the SSLC examinations and the record number of students who secured A+ grade (1,21,318) have heightened worries that there will be a mad scramble for seats. With the first allotment list scheduled to come out on Wednesday, hopes of many students, particularly those in the northern districts such as Malappuram and Kozhikode, appear to have been dashed with no increase in batches forthcoming.

The government order says the chances of regular physical classes are low this academic year in view of COVID-19. More seats have been sanctioned in seven districts where there is a shortage, and, hence, there is no need to sanction new batches.

However, admission in a course or school of their choice may remain a dream for students, particularly those opting for the science stream.

Abu Bakr Puliyakkel, president of the Parent-Teacher Association of Chaliyapuram Government High School, Malappuram, says 182 students passed SSLC from the school, but a good majority of them will not get admission to Plus One. The school has not been sanctioned higher secondary section, so its students have to seek admission in other schools. However, those schools will have their own students to accommodate, he says.

Jaisal Elamaram, vice president, Vazhakad grama panchayat, is one of the hundreds of anxious parents who fear for their wards’ future. Mr. Elamaram, whose son studied at the Chaliyapuram school, says students will not get admission to schools of their choice as there are just not enough seats.

Abdulla Vavoor, former president of the Kerala School Teachers’ Union, says nearly 11,000 students in Malappuram may not get Plus One admission and be forced to turn to open schooling. This is despite a 20% increase in seats .

The government, he says, has the responsibility to protect children’s right to education, but it is avoiding that in the name of financial burden. Admitting 55 to 60 students in a class meant for 50 is tough and affects the quality of learning. The High Court too had called for verification of lack of classroom facilities. However, seats had been increased by the government, not batches.

Aided Higher Secondary Teachers Association State president R. Arunkumar says physical distancing will be impossible to maintain in classrooms that accommodate more students than they are meant to. It will be even worse in laboratories.

In Thiruvananthapuram, seats may be vacant in rural areas, coastal or hilly belts, but in the city or Nedumangad or Attingal, students may not get admission in schools they wish for. It is in such areas that more batches should be allowed.

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