Ednl reforms in kerala-1990-2010 Introduction A cardinal feature of culture and society in Kerala and of Kerala’s political and economic development is the high proportion of literate and educated persons in the population. Literacy – in particular, female literacy – is an essential (and is often regarded as the essential)facilitator of Kerala’s achievements in the spheres of health and demographic change.
Literacy is a foundational feature of Kerala’s political culture, crucial in the creation of public opinion and essential to the consciousness of individual and political rights that is so conspicuous a feature of social and political life in Kerala.
The median number of completed years of schooling in Kerala is much higher than in the rest of India, and the difference between male and female achievement in this regard is much narrower than in the rest of India. Literacy and education are, of course, of intrinsic importance, that is, they are important in and of themselves.
The experience of Kerala is an excellent example of how literacy and education are also of immense instrumental importance in social development.
To take the impact of education in one sphere of social development, health and demographic change, it is clear that education, particularly female education, has a fundamental influence on health and health-seeking behaviour (and on socio-cultural consciousness that influences attitudes to health). There are strong correlations between life expectancy and literacy.
The lower infant and child mortality are, the higher is the level of maternal schooling. At given levels of income,schooling increases the ability to improve nutrition; it contributes to the ability to initiate earlier and more effective diagnoses of illness and contributes to hygiene and the prevention of illness. Education also influences the reduction of survivorship differentials between males and females in a society. The impact of female education on progressive health and demographic transition in Kerala has been recognized widely.
Female literacy and girls’ schooling are critical factors in Kerala’s performance in respect of child health and health conditions in general. Other factors relating to female empowerment and education and relevant to Kerala’s better performance in child and general health than elsewhere in India, that have been discussed in the literature are: higher average age at marriage, higher rates of female employment in the organised sector, higher levels of health information among women and maternal utilization of the health system, and the greater decision-making role of women in Kerala households.
The spread of education has also had profound implications – not easily captured in statistics – for political mobilization, for creating and sustaining demands for social and economic entitlements in the spheres, for example, of education, health, food security and liberation from caste oppression. Owing to the prevalent levels of literacy, the dissemination of information by means of the written word goes much deeper in Kerala than elsewhere in India; this has important implications for the quality and depth of public opinion, and of participatory democracy in the state.
Although public provisioning in education in Kerala has been more effective than elsewhere, and better distributed between the sexes and between social groups and regions, traditional patterns of inequality have not entirely been eliminated. There are still social groups that are substantially behind the rest of the population in terms of education and other development achievements. These include people of the scheduled castes and tribes, the traditional coastal fishing communities, and the underclass of Tamil migrant workers in the State.
The persistence of different forms of deprivation among these three groups is an important cause for social concern and calls for greater attention from state authorities and political movements. CONCLUSION : Kerala is still far from establishing a school system where every child has access to a school of high quality,equipped with classrooms, libraries, laboratories and playgrounds – a school that has, in general, all the facilities for study and play that all parents wish for their children.
There is no doubt, however, that the present government and people’s movements in the State are concerned with this issue, and are working on school reform that attempts to make such a change. Kerala once led India in universalising school education; today it has taken the lead in attempting to improve the quality of mass school education. The social and economic policies of the Central and State governments and the mass movements in Kerala will determine the success of this effort in the years to come.
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