As Godmen make headlines in the 'God's Own Country', the media-both print and electronic-have gone great lengths to unmask these fake spiritual sooth-sayers. The State Government has also pulled up its socks to take on these 'agents of divinity'!! Not a day passes in Kerala, when there isn't news about the nefarious activities of such fake men. Sitting in Delhi, one gets the feeling that perhaps the epitome for the state clearly sticks!! However, in the midst of all these exposures, somewhere lost among the fine print is the declaration of the SSLC results in the state.Coming a few years after the government of the State replaced its 'rank' system with that of grading, the State has seen a success percentage of close to 93%.
Such a remarkable success rate of the students comprising mainly of the government schools speaks volumes of the tireless efforts on the part of the Education ministry of the State to improve the overall outlook of this front. The Education Minister of Kerala, M.A.Baby had remarked during the result declaration that "to internalize such a remarkable result, the perception and vision of the Malayalis had to undergo a sea change". On expected lines, the socio-political spectrum in the State has reacted to these results; the opposition parties along with groups like the NSS-SNDP and other groups have sought to pooh-pooh such a high pass percentage!!In fact, the UDF in the state feels that next time around 'cent percent pass' is a strong possibility. Some have called these entire results as mockery. Rather than talking about the dynamics of the SSLC results itself, it would be interesting to understand the Malayali mindset through this result. Taking forward, Mr. Baby's arguments, the need for sea change in Malayali's frame of mind does give serious food for thought. The average Malayali today, especially those within the State have a great aversion towards government-run schools. This phenomenon, however is not restricted to Kerala alone; The government-run schools have always been looked down upon, and seen as lacking basic infrastructure and facilities. This is true to many such schools in far-flung areas. The Malayali parents, in their quest to give their children the best education available, see the management-run elite schools as their destination. Wearing ties, creamy uniforms, with smart polished shoes and bright ribbons have always been viewed as having a 'tip-top' character. In such a scenario, the uniforms (sometimes even lack of it!!) of Khaki pants and Green Skirts-Salwars lack the appeal. As commercialization and privatization has come to rule the roost in the primary education sector, Keralite parents run from pillar to post to ensure that their children are properly equipped to encompass themselves within such an elite background.
Many of these elite schools within the state have imposed gags on speaking in the native tongue, Malayalam. There have even been instances of the authorities imposing hefty fines and even literally branding students by having boards put around the necks of students 'who violate such gag orders'!! The Malayalis have come to accept such harsh discipline, along with increasing workloads of the students. Daily tutions, special classes, entrance coaching classes (for professional courses to be optimal in the race in the job market!!) other than regular classes not only over-burden the students (symbolized by the weighty school bags, which are back breaking!!), but also leave them little time to even breathe. The 'False Pride' of the Malayalis has also been an inseparable part in such aversion towards government schools. The very belief that students in such schools are indisciplined, not bright and 'countrys' as often stated by the Malayalis is a stark reflection of the elitist mentality of the Middle-Class in the state. While those Malayalis within the State exhibit these features, the non-residents outside Kerala go further ahead in displaying such false pretensions!! The learning of the Mother Tongue was considered out of fashion and many take pride in the fact that they never undertook serious measures to get their children to absorb the Malayali essence!! In fact, children speak to their parents, in all languages except the native tongue!!
I do not want to sound parochial through such articulation on my part. However, at times such false pride and pretensions of the Malayalis disappoints and demoralizes; In the rush to adopt CBSE/ICSE mode of culture for their children, the Malayali's mindset is also dove-tailed to suit that culture. So, when government schools by their continuous efforts to enhance their excellence succeed in their endeavours, the trivialization of these efforts by not coming to terms with the results and subsequent blame game, thus trying to drive home the point that such things are not possible at all. In such a situation, these efforts on the part of the elite middle-class echelons of the Kerala society definitely reeks of vested interests, thereby raising the need to take all of this with not just a pinch, but a handful of salt. So, when M.A. Baby talks of 'transforming people's mindset', the remarks have to be viewed by the Malayalis all the more seriously. Henceforth, the tasks for 'socially conscious' Kerala also become uphill.