Social Service


Kerala's unique development experience of high human development with low per capita income has received international attention. The State could attain significant achievements in the critical sectors of health and education. Kerala's unparalleled achievements in human development indicators are mainly attributed to the State's public interventions in health and education sectors, especially after Independence. Education has always had a central role in determining Kerala's performance in social development. The network of educational institutions established during the early modern period, the social reform movements and government intervention helped the State to establish a strong foundation in the field of education. In the early 1990s, Kerala became the first ever state in the Indian union to attain universal literacy. The policies for ensuring the universal elementary education have effectively been implemented by the State since Independence.

In spite of its remarkable achievements in the education sector in the State, prominent gaps exist regarding the quality of education being imparted. Inorder to look into various aspects of quality of education at different levels, the Kerala State Planning Board had constituted two expert committees (the reports may be accssed at ).

Expenditure On Education

During the first year of the 12th Plan an amount of 590.24 crore had been earmarked for education sector of which 98.78 per cent was expended. The outlay was increased significantly during the last five years and in 2016-17 the sector was allocated an amount of 1330.79 crore. Among the three sub-sectors of school education, higher education and technical education, the percentage share of higher education substantially increased over these five years whereas outlay on technical education increased only marginally. Further, General Education (school education plus higher education) got more than 80 per cent of the total allocation in these five years. Though the total outlay for all the three sub- sectors has been increasing over the five years (Table 4.1 and Figure 4.1), the percentage share of school education decreased from 56 per cent in 2012-13 to 37.8 per cent in 2016-17.

Table 4.1
Average Plan Outlay and Expenditure during XIIth Plan, in crore

Period and Sectors School Education Higher Education General Education Technical Education Total
Annual Plan 2012-13 Outlay 287.15 202 489.15 101.09 590.24
Actual Expenditure 286.54 154.15 440.69 142.33 583.02
Percentage of outlay spent 99.79 76.31 90.09 140.95 98.78
Annual Plan 2013-14 Outlay 333.15 247.99 581.14 117.86 699
Actual Expenditure 220.2 154.15 374.35 96.95 471.3
Percentage of outlay spent 66.1 62.16 64.41 82.33 67.42
Annual Plan 2014-15 Outlay 336.81 367.97 704.78 143.22 848
Actual Expenditure 226.63 207.29 433.93 106.44 540.37
Percentage of outlay spent 67.29 56.34 61.57 74.32 63.72
Annual Plan 2015-16 Outlay 349.75 510.42 860.17 184.45 1044.62
Actual Expenditure 223.11 439.1 662.21 246 908.21
Percentage of outlay spent 63.79 86.03 76.99 133.37 86.94
Annual Plan 2016-17 Outlay 502.51 592.87 1095.38 235.41 1330.79
*Actual Expenditure 121.68 81.97 203.65 29.94 233.59
Percentage of outlay spent 24.21 13.83 18.59 12.72 17.55

Source:Annual Plan Documents.
* upto October

Figure 4.1
Trend of sector wise Outlay of Education during 12th Plan, in crore

Source: Annual Plan document, 2016

In order to address the relevant issues in the three sub sectors of education and to formulate focussed policies and programmes for implementation during 13th Five Year Plan, State Planning Board has constituted Working Groups ( Box.4.1).

Working Groups for 13th Five Year Plan on Education

In order to formulate projects for the 13th Five Year Plan, Kerala State Planning Board constituted three Working Groups on Education for School, Higher and Technical Education. The Working Groups were co-chaired by the secretaries of the departments concerned and sector experts. Consultations with several experts were made in the respective fields and the committees submitted the draft reports, including recommendations, addressing the aspects related to the quality of education, research and development.


Kerala ranks first in the country with literacy rate of 93.91 per cent closely followed by Lakshadweep (92.28 per cent) and Mizoram (91.58 per cent), as per data from the Census of India, 2011. Kerala's literacy rate, which was only 47.18 per cent in 1951, has almost doubled by 2011. The male-female literacy gap which was 22 per cent in 1951 has narrowed down to 4.41 per cent in 2011. Kerala holds the first place in the country in female literacy (92 per cent in 2011). At the other end, Rajasthan records the lowest female literacy rate of 52.66 per cent. Literacy rate of the State from 1951 to 2016 is shown in Appendix 4.1.

Variation in literacy rates among the districts of Kerala is low. While Pathanamthitta district (96.93 per cent) reports the highest literacy rate followed by Kottayam (96.4 per cent) and Alappuzha (96.26 per cent), Palakkad district has the lowest literacy rate (88.49 per cent). The low rate of literacy of the Palakkad district may be due to the higher percentage of Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) population in the district. About 11 per cent of the ST population in the State, reporting an average literacy of 74.44 per cent, are residing in Palakkad district. The share of SC population in the district population is also the highest in the State. Literacy rate by sex for districts in 2003 and 2015 are given in Appendix 4.2.

Kerala State Literacy Mission has been implementing literacy and equivalency programmes by appointing ‘Preraks' (representatives of centre for propagating and continuing literacy programmes). Details of the number of people benefiting from the equivalency programme of Literacy Mission from 2005 to 2015 are given in Appendix 4.3. It is seen that the number of persons who attend the 7th equivalency examination is steadily decreasing from 11,631 in 2005 to 3492 in 2015. The indications are that illiteracy has almost been eradicated.

School Education

There were 12,882 schools in Kerala in 2015-16: 4619 (36 per cent) government schools, 7140 (55 per cent) aided schools and 1123 (9 per cent) unaided schools. More government schools are functioning in lower primary section than the upper primary or high school sections. Aided schools outnumber government schools in all sections. The management wise share of schools in the state is shown in Figure 4.2.

Figure 4.2
Management wise share of schools in the State-2014-15, in per cent

Source: Directorate of Public Instruction

Malappuram District has the largest number of schools (1548) in the State followed by Kannur (1305) and Kozhikode (1269). Malappuram also has the largest number of government (546) and unaided schools (221) in the State. But the largest number of aided schools is functioning in Kannur district (959). Details of district-wise, management-wise and stage-wise number of schools in Kerala during 2015-16 are given in Appendix 4.4.

There are 1408 schools in the State that are offering syllabi other than the one prescribed by the State government. These include 1210 CBSE schools, 148 ICSE schools, 36 Kendriya Vidyalayas and 14 Jawahar Navodayas. One Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya school each is functioning in all the districts. District-wise details of schools with syllabi other than state syllabus in the year 2015-16 are given in Appendix 4.5.

Physical Infrastructure and Facilities In Government Schools

All government Schools in Kerala are functioning in pucca buildings. Own buildings have to be constructed for 116 government schools that are now functioning in rented buildings. District-wise details of government schools having building facilities are given in Appendix 4.6.

Local Self Government institutions and programmes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) have contributed to the overall development and improvement of physical infrastructure and common facilities in government schools in the State. Data shows that 99.1 per cent of government schools have access to drinking water and 98.01 per cent have sanitation facilities. District–wise details of government schools having drinking water and sanitation facilities in Kerala in 2015-16 are given in Appendix 4.7.

Enrolment Of Students

Enrolment of students in the State has been declining in the recent years; the number has declined from 37.63 lakh in 2015-16 to 37.01 lakh in 2016-17 (provisional). However, there is a slight increase in enrolment in the Lower Primary (LP) section with an increase of 4840 students between 2015-16 and 2016-17. The decrease in enrolment in Upper Primary (UP) section and High School (HS) section has been 19,691 and 46,741 students respectively in 2016-17 over the previous year. The stage-wise enrolment of students in schools in Kerala from 2012-13 to 2016-17 is given in Appendix 4.8. Details of management-wise and standard wise enrolment of students in schools in Kerala during 2016-17 are given in Appendix 4.9. District-wise stage-wise and sex-wise enrolment of students in schools in the State during 2016-17 is given in Appendix 4.10. The section wise decrease in the enrolment of students in schools is shown in Figure 4.3.

Fig 4.3
Stage-wise Enrolment of Students in Schools in Kerala, in number

Source:Directorate of Public Instruction

Enrolment of Girl students

Girl students constitute 49.5 per cent of the total student enrolment in schools. Boys outnumbered girls in all the districts, except Thiruvananthapuram. In terms of enrolment, the gender gap in Kerala is very narrow compared to other states.

Strength of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Students

In 2016-17, Scheduled Caste (SC) students constituted 10.71 per cent of total students in the State. The percentage of SC students in government schools is higher than that of private aided and private unaided schools. The percentage of SC students in government schools, private aided schools and private unaided schools are 13.46 per cent, 10.56 per cent and 4.11 per cent respectively (Table 4.2). But the number of Scheduled Caste students in private aided schools is 33.44 percent higher than those in government schools.

Table 4.2
Percentage of Enrolment of SC/ST students in Schools

Management Others SC ST Total
Government 82.69 13.46 3.85 100
Private Aided 87.89 10.56 1.55 100
Private Unaided 95.43 4.11 0.46 100

Source: Directorate of Public Instruction

ST students constituted 2.12 per cent of total enrolment in schools in the year 2016-17. The percentage of ST students in government schools, private aided schools and private unaided schools are 3.85 per cent, 1.55 per cent and 0.46 per cent respectively in 2016-17. The standard-wise strength of SC/ST students in the State in 2015-16 is given in Appendix 4.11. Out of the total number of SC/ST students in the State, only 4.4 per cent of SC and 2.5 per cent of ST students are enrolled in private unaided schools. The rest are enrolled in government and private aided schools.

Drop-Out Rate

Kerala has achieved the distinction of having the lowest drop-out rate of school students among the Indian states. In the year 2014-15, drop-out ratio among school students in Kerala was 0.34 per cent. This was, however, 0.7 per cent more than the rate in 2013-14 (0.27 per cent). As per the statistics of Directorate of Public Instruction (DPI), this marginal increase in the drop-out rate was due to the corrections undertaken in the number of students enrolled after eliminating the duplicates. The drop-out rates in Lower Primary stage and High School stage are higher compared to that of the Upper Primary stage. Drop-out rate is highest among high school students.

Among all districts, Idukki has the highest drop-out rate in the lower primary section (1.06 per cent). In upper primary section and high school, Wayanad has the highest rates with 1.05 per cent and 2.88 per cent respectively. The higher drop-out rate may be attributed to the higher population of Scheduled Tribe students in these districts. District-wise/stage-wise drop-out ratio in schools in 2014-15 is given in Appendix 4.12. Drop-out rate among SC students in Kerala during 2014-15 was 0.38 per cent and that of ST students was 2.79 per cent. District-wise and stage-wise details of drop out among SC and ST students in Kerala for the year 2014-15 are given in Appendix 4.13 and Appendix 4.14.

Number of teachers

The number of school teachers in Kerala, including Teachers Training Institute (TTI) teachers, during 2014-15 was 164,884. Out of this 97,914 (59.38 per cent) teachers are working in aided schools and 14,982 (9.09 per cent) teachers are working in private unaided schools. The remaining 31.53 per cent of teachers are working in government schools. 51.82 per cent of total teachers in the State are teaching in high schools, 24.56 per cent in upper primary schools, 23.21 per cent in lower primary schools and the remaining (0.41 per cent) in TTI's. 72.34 per cent of total teachers in the State are women. Stage-wise and management-wise number of teachers in Kerala during 2015-16 is given in Appendix 4.15

Uneconomic Schools

Schools with insufficient strength of pupils are termed as “uneconomic” schools. In 2015-16, there were 5715 uneconomic schools in the State, which was an increase of 142 schools over the previous year. Out of these, 2,606 were government schools and 3,109 were in the aided sector. District-wise analysis shows that highest number of uneconomic schools is in Kannur (723) followed by Kozhikode (593), Kottayam (560) and Pathanamthitta (501). The highest number of uneconomic schools in aided sector is in Kannur (583) followed by Kozhikode (426). In the government sector, Ernakulam has the largest (279) number of uneconomic schools followed by Thiruvananthapuram (276). Among the government uneconomic schools, 73.1 per cent are lower primary schools. In the aided sector also, 78.7 per cent of uneconomic schools are from the lower primary section. District wise details of uneconomic schools in the State in 2015-16 are given in Appendix 4.16.

Takeover of “Uneconomic” Aided Schools by the Government of Kerala

In a major relief to students of uneconomic aided-schools that are facing threat of closure, the Kerala government took over four such schools, including a 140-year-old one in Kozhikode district, which had been ordered to be shut down by the High Court. Though the government approached the Supreme Court against the Malaparamba Aided Upper Primary School management's decision to close it down, the apex court had dismissed its appeal against the High Court order to close down the school by June 8. A Cabinet meeting took the decision of taking over of the 4 uneconomic aided schools considering the future of students and widespread protests against the closure.

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan was introduced in 2000-2001 as a flagship programme of Government of India to provide useful and relevant elementary education for all children in the age group of 6 to 14 by 2010. The programme seeks active participation of the community in the management of schools without social, regional, economic and gender barriers. It comprises all activities of school education: providing physical infrastructure, free text book for children, encouraging enrolment of girls and teacher training. The sharing of funds between the central and the state governments was 75:25. The funding pattern has now been modified to 60:40.