Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government has found a way to accommodate the record number of students who had passed the SSLC examination this time: 20% increase in the higher secondary plus one seats for all subjects in aided and government schools in seven districts.
The seven districts are: Thiruvananthapuram, Palakkad, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur. The decision was taken at the Cabinet meeting held here on Wednesday. This year, after the stupendous success achieved by SSLC students (99.47%), the difference between the number of students who had passed and the number of available higher secondary plus one seats has widened like never before.
There is also an explosion of students who have scored a full A plus. If in 2020 the number of full A plus candidates was 41,906, this time it has nearly tripled to 1.12 lakh. The number of high-scoring students were so high that it was not sure whether even A plus winners will be able to opt for the subject of their choice in at least their own taluk.
The 20% increase in seats in the most affected districts, mostly the northern ones, was a solution the government was already considering. The plan was to increase 20% seats in the most affected districts and 10% in others. However, the Cabinet limited the increase to only the worst affected districts.
On an average this would mean that every batch in aided and government schools in Kerala could admit 10 students additionally. Nonetheless, an increase in seats is not seen as a sustainable solution. It can even invite legal trouble.
The High Court had specifically said that there should not be more than 50 students in a class, especially when there is a shortage of space in our classrooms. Such a crowding, it is felt, would affect the quality of classroom education. With a rise in the number of students, it is said that lab facilities would be stretched beyond limit, compromising training.
Last academic year, the High Court had allowed such an increase in seats. "But that was because of COVID and it would have been difficult for the government to put other measures in place. But even then the Court had directed the government to take appropriate action before the commencement of this academic year, which the government has evidently not done," a top source said.
According to the General Education Department, there is a shortage of 11,090 seats in aided and government schools this academic year. However, the opposition said that the shortage is over 30,000 seats in Malappuram alone.