Last week Kerala’s education minister C Raveendranath told the Assembly that about 1.24 lakh students in the state had kept their caste and religion columns blank in their admission form for 2017-18. This was hailed as a very progressive step across on Twitter
1.25 lakh students chose not to fill the religion and caste columns in Kerala.
Ther is always hope?❤
— Nikhila Vimal (@Nikhilavimal1) March 28, 2018
The news was widely shared by various politicians as well.
Have no religion or caste, say 1.24 lakh Kerala students – The Indian Express https://t.co/5yurNDlzoh
— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) March 29, 2018
Some even hailed it as ‘shiny beacon of hope’.
1.24 lakh reasons why we should stop calling Kerala “God’s own Country”.
Way to go Kerala! You are a shiny beacon of hope! ?https://t.co/Fs4EJ0aSTc
— Meghnad (@Memeghnad) March 29, 2018
However, after the news went viral, the truth has emerged that the reason those children have not mentioned caste or religion is the fact that there was a technical glitch. The data was sourced from incomplete information uploaded by the schools. According to Director of Public Instruction (DPI) K V Mohandas, the details of students admitted to schools are uploaded on the Education Department’s website using the ‘Sampoorna’ school management software.
As per reports, it is not mandatory to fill up the columns declaring religion and caste in the application form for Class I admission. The department has sourced the data from the information entered by schools on the website. It appears that teachers might have filled only the mandatory columns while entering the students’ details. While it is mandatory to fill the column regarding the name of the guardian, it is not compulsory to enter the names of father and mother. Similarly, though there are columns to enter the religion and caste of the student, they are not mandatory.
Fresh data suggests that only 1,538 students chose to mention neither caste nor religion. While 2,797 entered religion not caste, as many as 2,984 kept away from citing religion.