Thiruvananthapuram: A comprehensive revision of the manual for the Kerala State School Kalolsavam was done this academic year to ensure a level playing field for all.
However, the aim could be achieved only partially as many of the revised provisions were later dropped following opposition from various quarters. But many of the progressive changes will remain.
Many feel that the changes were not adequate to avoid the over-emphasis on dance items. This resulted in literary, fine arts and theatre events getting less publicity and a high number of appeals.
There were also allegations of nepotism and corruption in many district-level and state-level school Kalolsavams in the past. The DPI, therefore, decided to keep off tainted judges from the panel of the Kalo-lsavam. Complaints against judgments had come up before the anti-corruption bureau and High Court in the past. Many students arrive with orders from district courts, general education department, Lokayukta, child rights commission and the High court.
It was alleged that judgments were manipulated to ensure grace marks in the public examinations by getting high grades. The authorities had taken steps including not allowing judges to talk to anyone or even using phones while the contests were going on. During the last Kalolsavam they had even asked the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) to keep a watch on the judges.
Mr Sujeev Jose, a teacher of Government Higher Secondary School, Neduveli, said that students showed more interest in dance than in literary or theatre events as it got the maximum viewership.
Mr Sreekumar Mimers, a theatre and mime artist, said that students who win laurels in literary events do not get as much publicity as that in dance events. Theatre events are group-based and the achievement could not be projected as individual. Dance events get more media attention as they are more colourful, Mr Sreekumar said.
Ms Sreeja Sasidharan, an advocate, said that the increase in the number of appeals should be ended. “Parents flood agencies like Lokay-ukta with appeals. Last year, a parent approached me with a demand to submit an appeal against the decision at the district-level Kalolsavam. However, his child was ranked only sixth. If he had come second, there was logic in going for an appeal. However, the parent said he was ready to spend any amount of money and go for litigation up to any level,” said Ms Sashidharan.
It was following the protest from dance teachers that the DPI decided to withdraw the decision to conduct mimicry, folk dance, Kathakali and Ottanthullal competitions as single event for the state school Kalolsavam for both girls and boys. The present decision is to conduct separate competitions for girls and boys in these events like last year.
The plan to hold school Kalolsavam from December 27 to January 1 during Christmas holidays was also dropped. The fest will be conducted from January 6 to 10 in Thrissur.
If the curriculum has to be adequately covered, the state requires 1000 instructional hours. There was a stipulation that there should be at least 200 working days as per the right to education Act.
As a large number of teachers and students attend the youth festival, classes would be disrupted during the period.
The other decisions include restricting appeals, number of candidates to a maximum 14 for an item and controlling expenses. All payments over `5000 have to be made through bank accounts to ensure transparency. The manual has provisions to curb the appointment of judges for more than two years consecutively....