Ooroottambalam government school welcomes girl in lineage of Panchami

School recalls history lesson.

Thiruvananthapuram: It was poetic justice when five-year-old Athira Sreejith walked into Government UPS, Ooroottambalam, at Kattakkada, where Panchami, her great grand-aunt, was denied admission on account of being a Dalit. It had triggered the historic ‘Kandala agitation’ led by social reformer Ayyankali in 1916. At the gate, I.B. Satheesh made her wear a colourful paper hat and gave her black plums. Her mother Deepthi took her to the ‘Panchami’ memorial, a half-burnt bench encased in glass. It was the bench on which Panchami had sat, as per local accounts, when Ayyankali admitted her to the school, then known as Kandala Kudipallikkodam.

The social reformer had got the Sri Mulam Praja Sabha to pass a law in 1906 permitting children from the Backward Caste to study in schools. “But school managers resisted the law, and it was by force that Panchami was admitted to the school. The girl was ousted, and the bench was set on fire, prompting Ayyankali to start what is described as the state’s first ever strike. Farmers refused to work, until they got justice,” says Kattakkada MLA I.B. Satheesh. As they proceeded to the hall where Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was present for the state-level inauguration of ‘Pravesan-olsavam’, Athira’s hand brushed the glass case.

Perhaps she was too little, too wide-eyed to realise the enormity of the event. Her brother Abhijith studies at the school in Class III. Her father is a daily wage worker. They stay in a house built using panchayat funds, but it is leaking. A majority of the students here come from poor families, according to lower primary headmistress Latha N. The school, which had 257 students last year, has 290 students now. “Ours would be the first hi-tech UPS in the state,” she says. History was once again been created.

3.5 lakh students start schooling

Around 3.5 lakh new students were enrolled in Class I on the first day when schools reopened after summer vacations as per initial reports coming in on Thursday. However, DPI sources said that the preliminary reports from districts would be available only by Friday evening. The rough preliminary statistics could be known only then. The present figures being circulated were not official figures prepared by the statistical wing of the DPI, sources said. As per estimates, the number of students in government schools would be around 35 lakhs. However, the number of students who got admitted to schools would be known only after the sixth day verification process, when the official statistics of students are collected. According to official figures there are 12,882 schools in the state, of which 4,619 are government schools, 7,140 aided schools and 1,123 unaided schools.

Meanwhile, Chief Mini-ster Pinarayi Vijayan said that the goal of government schools was to transform children and make them efficient to take up challenges.
“The government is giving emphasis on providing best education to students from poor families to follow the example set by the EMS government for public education in 1957. Kerala made progress through general education. It was after globalisation that profit motive became the prime concern for every sector including education. The rich have many options to learn. The government is trying to provide poor the same educational facilities others get,” he said. Education minister C. Raveendranath said that the increasing enrolments in government schools showed that the people had started accepting government schools.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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