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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 24/07/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) E new batches will add roughly another 40000 seats taking the total number of seats to 430000.Ignoring warning from experts the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government has sanctioned 379 additional batches in higher secondary schools across Kerala.

The government had earlier sanctioned one batch each in 134 schools newly set up in panchayats that do not have even a single higher secondary school and two batches each in 93 schools. The new schools were sanctioned on the direction of the high court. The decision to sanction 379 more batches was taken by the cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday based on the recommendation of a cabinet sub-committee. With this the number of batches sanctioned during the current academic year has gone up to 699.

Senior education department officials had advised the government against sanctioning additional batches as there were sufficient seats in both government and aided schools for the students who have secured eligibility for higher education in the SSLC examination this year. The number of students cleared for higher education this year is 442000 while the total number of seats available for higher secondary courses was 390000. This is considered sufficient as many students who secured eligibility may opt out of higher education or join other streams.

The new batches will add roughly another 40000 seats taking the total number of seats to 430000. This will render many seats vacant. A total of about 65000 seats are already vacant after the first and second allotments. The officials feel the new schools and batches will render higher secondary schools uneconomic in future as the state is witnessing a steady decline in the number of school-going population due to the demographic transition. It is projected that by 2022 the number of students appearing for SSLC examination will be 295000 while the number of higher secondary seats will be 430000 even if no further seats are increased in future.

The state is already grappling with the problem of uneconomic schools in primary and upper primary sector following steady fall in enrolments. The head count during the current academic year showed that the student strength in 593 schools is less than 20. It revealed that over 3500 schools have an average 13 teachers to teach 30 students each. Though economic experts have been suggesting closure of uneconomic schools and retrenchment of surplus teachers the successive government have been sustaining them and paying the teachers without doing any work due to pressures from teachers unions and their political parties.

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