The truth about Kerala’s 1.24 lakh students who left their caste and religion columns blank

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

The news was widely shared by various politicians as well.

Some even hailed it as ‘shiny beacon of hope’.

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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.

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