(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 26, 2010
Health, Education Sectors Assume New Heights
HEALTH and education sectors in Kerala are the two vital sectors that have earned global acclaim. But the reactionary reforms implemented during the regime of the Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF) severely impaired the significant achievements in these sectors. In the state under the regime of the CPI(M) led Left Democratic Front (LDF), meritorious students were never denied education, including professional education, as their inability to pay the exorbitant fee was taken care of and equal opportunity was ensured at all levels. During the UDF government, however, as the result of a policy shift, needy students were deprived of education; some students like Rajani, a brilliant girl, even committed suicide out of frustration due to such denial.
Moreover, the erstwhile UDF government had listed thousands of schools to be closed down under the pretext that they were ‘uneconomic’ schools. Even the credibility of the SSLC examination was sabotaged; the state of the common entrance test was also not different. The UDF government was quite generous in permitting the traders of education to set up abundant ‘self-financing’ institutions without any control. As a result, merit was replaced with money power and this resulted in utter disruption of social justice in education. While promoting the self-financing institutions and backing the traders of education, that government never sanctioned new courses and batches for the government colleges and universities. Even in aided colleges, the UDF government encouraged the setting up of ‘unaided courses’ as part of its policy to withdraw from its responsibility in education. While doing so, the government also curtailed the democratic ethos in universities; democratic rights were repudiated.
But, as soon as it came to power, the LDF government reversed such abhorrent policies and made numerous ventures to reinforce the education sector. Spending Rs 4,000 crore, several higher and technical education institutions were established. In 2002, only 42.89 per cent of the students had passed the SSLC examination. As a result of the consistent effort of the LDF government to effect a qualitative shift in the general education, however, this state of affairs was reversed and 90.72 per cent of the students passed the SSLC examination in the last academic session. In backward regions, the LDF government set up 10 applied science colleges during this period. Budgetary allocation for education has been significantly increased to strengthen the general education; compared to the UDF period, the allocation now is 50 per cent higher. Textbooks and study materials for 35 lakh students of Standard 1 to 8 have been distributed free of cost. Mother tongue has been made a compulsory subject in all schools.
In higher secondary admissions, a single window system has been introduced to ensure fair and transparent admission. Considering its educational backwardness, the government lays special emphasis on the Malabar region. Numerous higher secondary schools have been established in this region. In order to ensure that no student is deprived of education because of her or his inability to pay the fee, the government has established a fund to assist the needy students. The coverage of the mid-day meal scheme has been expanded. In 5000 selected schools, the ITC project has been in progress. These sincere and steady efforts of the LDF government have brought about a qualitative shift in the standard of education in government schools as well.
RAYS OF HOPE
FOR THE NEEDY
The UDF policy in the health sector was designed to devastate the public health services in Kerala. The UDF government endeavoured to privatise the medical colleges and medical education, and did not provide any necessary facilities in government hospitals, including medicines and doctors. Many instances of corruption were reported even in the matter of transfer of doctors. There was no revision of the doctors’ salaries so that they could be attracted to join the government service. At the same time, the UDF government was not hesitant to effect huge increases in the consultation fee in government hospitals.
But the LDF government’s intervention altered this increasingly worsening situation. All the vacancies in government hospitals and medical colleges were filled up as a part of the LDF government’s policy to protect the public health sector. Infrastructure facilities in medial colleges were augmented and additional batches in government medical colleges sanctioned. This ensured an increase of 150 additional MBBS seats in those colleges. In order to ensure proper distribution of medicines and transparency, a Medical Corporation has been established. The LDF government is now bearing all expenses, including the treatment and surgery expenses, for the treatment of the children below 18 years who are afflicted with cancer and arthritis. The Janani Suraksha Yojana to give financial assistance to poor mothers is being scrupulously implemented and the government has granted a support of Rs 40 crore for this scheme.
government has spent
Rs 120 crore for the renovation and modernisation of the
IN THE SOCIAL
In the realm of social security, a project has been launched to give Rs 300 per month and 25 kilograms of rice at two rupees per kilogram to unmarried mothers. The LDF government is also providing Rs 25,000 each for remarriage of the widows. Allowances and wages of the Anganwadi workers have been increased and necessary buildings constructed for the Anganwadis, especially in the costal areas. The Kerala Social Security Mission has been established to protect the destitute, needy, women, children, etc.
Thus, making indefatigable efforts, the LDF government has been successfully guarding and further widening the world acclaimed Kerala model of development, by strengthening the sectors like the health, education and social welfare.
As a part of its neo-liberal policies, the erstwhile UDF government had cut down on all allowances to the government employees and thus sabotaged the service salary methods prevailing in the state. The same UDF that had promised during the elections to create 15 lakh new jobs, ridiculously imposed a ban on recruitment in government services and slashed hundreds of existing posts in its services.
But the LDF government took no time to reverse all such anti-people policies of the previous UDF government. The LDF government reinstated all the allowances that the UDF government had slashed. Proper arrangements were made to confer dearness allowances on time. Ban on recruitment has been lifted and new a pay commission has been set up. In the government service, 24,000 new posts were created and 1,23,691 fresh appointments have been made since April 30 through the Kerala Public Service Commission. It is to be noted that the UDF regime had ousted one lakh government employees during its period.
The extent of maternity leave has been increased from 135 to 180 days; 45 days leave is being granted to a woman employee who undergoes hysterectomy surgery.
IN REAL SENSE
The LDF government is working overtime to ensure houses for the homeless and guarantee drinking water, food and electricity to all in every area. The EMS Total Housing Scheme has already commenced and five lakh housing units have either been built or are under construction to achieve the ambitious aim of Home for All. The government has drawn up a scheme to either repair or rebuild all the houses built under the M N Laksham Veedu Rehabilitation Project. In order to solve the drinking water problem, 47 mega drinking water projects and 190 small projects in various part of the state have already been commissioned. Under these projects, an additional 10 lakh households will get the facility of the hygienic water supply. Moreover, 823 rural drinking water projects and another 57 as part of the tsunami rehabilitation have been completed. Yet another 36 projects with an estimated expenditure of Rs 670 crore have started with assistance from the National Bank for agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD); 37 urban drinking water projects that were held back during the UDF regime have now been revived with an expenditure of Rs 139 crore. In rural areas, the government has allocated Rs 300 crore for various water distribution projects and commenced a project to ensure water connection within seven days of application. As a result of all such creative interventions, the India Today honoured the state with its “Bharat Nirman” award.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has been effectively implemented in the state to ensure basic wages to the needy. The state has the best record among all the Indian states in implementing the MGNREGA that was, one may recall, enacted under the pressure from the Left. During the last four years, the government has ensured 529.8 lakh working days for the poor with an expenditure of Rs 802.8 crore.
The LDF government assumed office at a time when the world acknowledged Kerala model of development was under peril, thanks to the ruthless neo-liberal policies. But the LDF government guided the state with unbending determination to protect the Kerala model while rectifying its shortcomings. Setting an example now before the whole country, the LDF has demonstrated how a state government can ensure relief to the poor through alternative policy and vision amid the onslaughts of imperialist driven globalisation.