The third session of the 15th Kerala Assembly got off to a stormy start on Monday with the opposition raising the paradox of a record SSLC pass this year. This is the second time the opposition had raised the issue in the Assembly; this was raised first on August 3, during the second session.
The Opposition on Monday said that the record 99.47% SSLC success had caused a serious admission crisis with even the A-plus winners finding it virtually impossible to secure the higher secondary subject and school of their choice. General Education Minister V Sivankutty, however, said that nearly 95% of students who had passed SSLC would eventually get admitted after the second allotment, which would begin on October 7, and spot admissions.
He said that after the second allotment, there would even be an excess of 33,000 seats. He said the total number of Plus One seats in the whole of Kerala was 3,94,457 (three lakh ninety four thousand and four hundred and fifty seven). The total applicants he said was 4,65,219 (four lakh sixty five thousand two hundred and nineteen). After the first allotment, the minister said 2,10,489 students had been given admission.
Taking out those who had not taken the first allotment and those who had gone for vocational higher secondary and polytechnic courses, he said the number waiting admission was 1,59,840. But he said more seats, 1,92,959, seats would be available during the second allotment, the excess 33,119 seats he referred to.
The minister also ruled out creating new batches to make up for the increase in applicants. As reason, he cited financial constraints.
Congress MLA Shafi Parambil, who moved the adjournment motion on the issue in the Assembly, said the statewide figures reeled out by the minister masked the crisis faced by students and parents. According to him, while there were excess seats in certain areas there was deficit in most others. He gave the example of Palakkad where he said there would be a deficit of 10,257 seats. The mismatch exists right from the school level. He gave the example of a school in Perumatty panchayat where there were 120 seats for biology. However, only 41 students had been admitted. "Therefore, we need to provide seats where they are required. We should go for a scientific rearrangement of seats. Instead there is a casual approach, " Shafi said.
Former minister K K Shailaja, while highlighting the admission crisis through a Calling Attention motion, also spoke of "rearrangement" of seats.
Shafi said that a student had done the maximum that she could, which is to score A-plus for all subjects. "But even after doing this, she is not able to get the subject of her choice and, even if she gets the preferred subject, she is not able to study in the place of her choice, " Shafi said.
He said there was a shortage of over 4500 seats in Palakkad, 1260 seats in Kannur and over 3000 seats in Kozhikode. Though he had said there would be an excess of over 33,000 seats when Kerala is taken as a whole, Sivankutty conceded that there would be shortages in Malappuram, Kozhikode and Wayanad.
Opposition leader V D Satheesan, too, said that the government should drop their simplistic approach to admissions. The minister had said that there were 2,71,000 merit seats and that there were just 1,20,000 students who had scored A-plus for all subjects. "If so, why are A-plus students and their parents swarming MLA offices across Kerala saying they are being denied seats for the subjects of their choice, " Satheesan said.
Former minister Shailaja said that students should be reasoned out of their emphasis on science and mathematics. "They should be told that there are other subjects like humanities with various combinations that could work for them. Only if students are distributed among other courses and combinations could we solve the admission crisis, " Shailaja said.
Both Satheesan and Shailaja warned that the government's decision to increase seats in classes to make up for the deficit could invite legal backlash. The High Court had mandated that there should not be more than 50 students in a class.