On 18 April, 1991 Kerala was declared as the totally literate state of India and it was a historic moment for Kerala then. Adding up to that, another milestone has been achieved by Kerala – ‘Total Primary Education’. Announcing the same, Vice President Hamid Ansari said, “I believe that the date today is as historic as April 18, 1991”. And he declared Kerala as the state of ‘Total Primary Education’ on January 13.
“Kerala has set a model for the rest of the country to follow”, the Vice President said. Ansari also said that this academic achievement was due to good governance as well as due to people who came up and understood the value of education. A memento was also presented to Vice President during the event when Kerala was declared as the first state to achieve cent percent primary education.
In 2007, Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority (KSLMA) launched a project named ‘Kiran’. In this project, more than 28,000 people of age group 18-50 and more than 45,000 people of age more than 50 actively participated. This project gained success when Kannur was declared as the first district in India to attain total primary education. After this triumph KLSMA launched a project – ‘Athulyam’. It was the first phase of Athulyam which started in 2006 as a pilot project in Nilambur panchayat in Malappuram. KLSMA tried to root out all the people who did not have access to primary education. It took almost two years of rigorous task to ensure that all the people in panchayat rang up their primary education.
In October 2014, the second phase of Athulyam started with bigger task. KSLMA approached every panchayat across the state. Around 2.5 lakhs appeared in the exam entitled ‘Athulyam Aksharolsavam’. This 4th grade equivalency exam was held in 6613 centres across the state. Passing marks was 40 % and examinees who met this requirement were declared as winner. There was also option of choosing mother language Tamil or Kannada. After the evaluation 98% of the appeared candidates passed the exam.
This achievement is being lauded across the country. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen credited Kerala and said this target was made due to ‘the constructive and combative roots of its historical background’. “The remarkable performance of Kerala on the various socio-economic indicators, which approximate more those of the developed countries than the developing ones, is a testimony to transformative nature of mass education”, he said.
Despite this remarkable achievement there is a sense of disparity to weaker section. The state would have missed to notice the present trend of drop out of dalits and tribal children. But on the brighter side, as the tenure of Kerala government is on the brink, Congress party has the achievement to get this status and it will show up in upcoming elections. As in past years since Modi government was formed, the status of Indian National Congress party has been fading so this achievement will add some credence to the party.