By Latheef Abbas Patla
published in countercurrents.org
Academic year of 2019 – 20 begun in June – July. Multiple educational reforms are implemented by state and central governments in India. Kerala is inter alia a topper state in India in respect of literacy having 96 percentage in 2018. It has been striving for achieving sheer and comprehensive literacy rate in coming years. However higher educational achievements of the state is very short and investment in this field seems to be non enthusiastic to the consecutive left and right governments of the state.
Lately, Kerala government is going to face another fundamental issue in education field. The regional disparity in the state in distributing education facilities is going to be stern in Malabar. The higher secondary seats in Malabar became largely insufficient to accommodate the highest number of students having passed and eligible for secondary education, while the remaining parts of Kerala state, Thiru-Cochi ( United Travancore and Cochin) regions enjoy enormous seats and thereby leaving about 54 batches empty this year. Malabar has been since the independence and formation of United Kerala, undergoing multitude of discriminative administration from the state governments. Historically, Malabar was part of Madras presidency in British ruled India, while Travancore and Cochin were autonomously ruled by independent rulers. Being part of Madras presidency, Malabar was under the direct rule of British government.
The prosperous land of Malabar, flourished in agriculture and industry with international trade with Arabians, had transformed as commercial hub which attracted the foreign advent from Portugal and lately the British imperialism. With KunjaliMarakkar as Naval commander to the kingdom of Kozhikode of Zamorin (Samoothiri), there had grown signs of communal harmony and cultural nexus.
Since the Portugal advent in the land, Malabar succumbed to the yoke of imperialist demon and thereupon revolts reared its ugly head midst the cultural and religious harmony of the people. While people of Malabar were severely protesting against the colonialism, the Cochin and Travancore rulers enjoyed much autonomy by cooperating with imperialists.
Although the state of Kerala was established in 1956, and later on the United Kerala government came into being, the history of legislation and legislative assembly has experience of more than hundred of years in Kerala. The council of legislation was established on 1888 in Travancore by a regulation passed by SreeMoolamThirunal Rama Verma. The landmark SreeMoolam Popular Assembly of hundred members also was established on 1904, which enabled the representation of common people in the legislation processes. In Cochin, a legislative council of bicameral system was founded on 1938. These are excerpt from the history of political and social evolution of Travancore and Cochin regions. While these revolutionary changes were taking place, the people of Malabar were fighting hard for the independence. Being part of Madras presidency, Malabar has had representatives since 1920. But protestant Malabar people raised hackles of British government and consequently were denied political and economic privileges from the administration.
Travancore and Cochin had developed educational institutions from the late nineteenth centuries, with the help of rulers in Travancore and by the Missionaries in Cochin. These periods, Malabar people were at battlefield, joining with the National Movement in Non cooperation Movement and Salt Marches and Quit India Movement.
After the 1947, when Malabar recovered the independence, Travancore and Cochin merged for being a strong state, having one ruler. Kerala’s major renaissance movements took place in Thiru-Cochi region in the early twentieth century with illustrious Ayyankali and Sree Narayana Guru, who led protracted struggle against the casteism and multiple forms of social anarchy. In 1911 Ayyankali, the leader of Pulaya caste was nominated to the Popular Assembly of Travancore, thus empowering the Dalit community, but the people of Malabar were still fighting against the external enemy.
In 1956, Malabar was integrated to Thiru-Cochi state and United Kerala was formed. The united Kerala was a veritable continuation of the political legacy of Thiru-Cochi state. Malabar region was disregarded when multitude of political headquarters were established in Thiru-Cochi region, example being the Secretariat, High Court, etc. Despite being British torn land, Malabar experimented heedlessness in development from the alternate left and right government of Kerala. Invariably demographical attention too denied for Malabar where live 42 percentage of total population across the six districts of Kasaragod, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Palakkad. Public institutions of state and central governments from Taluks, Panchayats, villages, to colleges community health centres, education sub division, Medical colleges, PU (public undertaking) industries, railway, KSRTC, were poorly allocated to Malabar.
As this essay started by underscoring the deplorable situation of higher secondary education section of Malabar because of the persistent disparity of attention from the elected governments of Kerala, a statistical analysis on it will bear much clear cut evidence for it. It was in 2001, that Pre- degree colleges were converted as higher secondary schools. Then, Malabar was not allowed student- proportionate batches or seats sufficient for accommodating the eligible students. Having more Muslim presence in Kerala, Malabar had not tenacious educational requirements in the incipient periods as most of Muslims were back turned or regressive from the non religious education.
Since a few decades, promptly after the avalanche of gulf migration has begun, Muslims have been forward looking and empowering themselves with education, along with social reformation. Many Muslim students have strided toughest competitive examinations from Malabar. In 2005, Malabar produced about 80 percentage students eligible for higher secondary education. And the number of SSLC winners increased year by year in Malabar while Thiru-Cochi region had diminishing number of the same. Confronting the deficiency of proportionate seats, around a fifty thousand students are out of gate in public institutions of Malabar. These students finally find shelter at private schools.
This year Malabar districts has a huge number of students passing SSLC, but 59575 of them will not get admission in government schools. On the contrary, in Thiru-Cochi region 7000 seats throughout 54 higher secondary batches are vacated across the districts of Pathanamthitta (11), Alapuzha (12), Kottayam (8), Idukki (10), Eranakulam (12).
Since 2005, Malabar has been soliciting each government to sanction additional batches or schools in higher secondary, the appeal was not just turned down but, the government capitalised by extending its private registration program which heavily overcharge from the students. Most surprisingly, 20180 out of 58895 private registered Students were from Malappuram, the most populated district in Kerala, comprising majority of Muslims. Yet 90 percentage of remaining were from other districts of Malabar.
Kerala government must take immediate action to put an end to this grappling distress of Malabar. Instead of depending upon abysmally unscientific method of increasing seats from fifty to sixty five in existing batches, the government should realise the disparity between two different regions of Kerala, having disparate historical backgrounds. More higher secondary schools should be allowed to Malabar districts, taking into account the demographic proportion. If government doesn’t give attention for promotion of human resource of Malabar, which has slightly upward economic advancement only because of the gulf migration, the diligent attention of Kerala government for achieving absolute literacy rate in coming days should pay the cost.
Latheef Abbas Patla, graduate in history, university of Calicut, Kerala. Freelance writer in Malayalam and English having written in online magazines and outlets including Café Dissensus Everyday, The Companion, Azhimukham etc. Presented academic research papers in five national and international conferences. An article published in the book with ISBN ‘Folklore Essays’, published by Progress Publication Kozhikode.