About Sainik Schools

The Sainik Schools are spread across India and the admission to these Schools are through an All India Entrance Examination. The administration of these Schools is vested in an autonomous Board of Governors Sainik School Society for which the Chairman is the Union Minister of Defence. The Chief Minister or the Education Minister of the State, where the schools are located, is also a member of the Board of Governors. The Schools are named after the localities in which they are situated. The Sainik School in Kerala is located at Kazhakootam, Thiruvananthapuram.

The Sainik Schools were established from 1961, with the primary aim of preparing boys academically, physically and mentally for entry into the Officer cadre of the Armed Forces.
The other objectives of these schools are:-
(a) To remove regional imbalance in the officer cadre of the defence services.
(b) To develop qualities of body, mind and character which will enable the young boys of today to become good and useful citizens of tomorrow.
(c) To bring public school education within the reach of the common man.

3. There are twenty Six Sainik Schools established in different places representing various states.
They are:-
(a) Sainik School, Korukonda (Andhra Pradesh)
(b) Sainik School, Kalikiri (Andhra Pradesh)
(c) Sainik School, Goalpara (Assam)
(d) Sainik School, Nalanda (Bihar)
(e) Sainik School, Gopalganj(Bihar)
f) Sainik School, Ambikapur(Chhattisgarh)
g) Sainik School, Balachadi (Gujarat)
h) Sainik School, Kunjpura (Haryana)
i) Sainik School, Rewari (Haryana)
j) Sainik School, Sujanpur Tira (Himachal Pradesh)
k) Sainik School, Nagrota (J&K)
l) Sainik School, Tilaiya (Jharkhand)
m) Sainik School, Bijapur(Kamataka)
n) Sainik School, Kodagu (Karnataka)
o) Sainik School, Kazhakootam(Kerala)
p) Sainik School, Rewa (Madhya Pradesh)
q) Sainik School, Satara(Maharashtra)
r) Sainik School, Imphal(Manipur)
s) Sainik School, Pungalwa,(Nagaland)
t) Sainik School, Bhubaneshwar(Orissa)
u) Sainik School, Kapurthala(Punjab)
v) Sainik School, Chittorgarh(Rajasthan)
w) Sainik School, Amaravathinagar (Tamil Nadu)
x) Sainik School, Ghorakhal(Uttarakhand)
y) Sainik School, Purulia( West Bengal).
z) Sainik School, Chhingchhip (Mizoram)
aa) Sainik School, Jhunjhunu (Rajasthan)
ab) Sainik School, East Siang (Arunachal Pradesh)

Our Motto “Gyan, Anushasan, Sahyog”
Sainik School Kazhakootam was established on 20 Jan 1962 in the military barracks of Pangode, Thiruvananthapuram. The then Chief Minister of Kerala, late Pattom Thanu Pillai chose the location for the school 18 Km away from Thiruvananthapuram on NH - 47 near Kazhakootam. The sprawling campus of 225 acres nestled between the slender strands of the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, situated on a hillock covered with verdant vegetation and spaces, is an ideal location for a military biased residential institution.

The foundation stone of Sainik School, Kazhakootam was laid by late VK Krishna Menon, the then Minister of Defence, Govt of India on 05 Feb 1962. The founder Principal was Lt Col BK Somaiah, Headmaster Sqn Ldr Babu Lal and the Registrar was Capt TVS Nair. During the 56 years of its existence, the school has been providing yeoman service as a feeder institution to the NDAand making public school education accessible to the common man. Around 5200 students had their education from this school and have made their mark in various walks of life. It is a matter of pride that around 1000 Kazhaks have joined the Armed Forces.

The School also has a consistent record of achieving excellent performance in CBSE Board Examinations. The School has achieved 100% results in the Class XII and Class X Board Exams. The School has won the Defence Minister’s Trophy five times for the highest intake into the NDA.

About Sainik School & Prospectus

Sainik School, Kazhakootam- A Conspectus
Mr. N Balakrishnan Nair (Founder, OBA)

1. The first decade after independence was a traumatic one. The wounds of partition, communal holocaust resettlement of millions of refugees, integration of the five hundred and odd native states, the glamour of linguistic reorganization - these were but a few of the daunting problems. The compulsive hostility of Pakistan, souring of the once - friendly ties with China, turbulence in the north-east and a vast coastline highlighted the necessity of sizeable, well-equipped army, navy and air-force.

2. Prior to the Government of India Act of 1935 and the acute demands of World War II, the Officer cadre of our armed forces was not open to our countrymen. Rare exceptions were granted to scions of royalty and blue blood. The Indian Military Academy was in existence. The National Defence Academy was the next logical step. Analysis of the existing Officer cadre revealed a disturbing trend. It still remained a monopoly of
(a) the so-called martial races and regions;
(b) the alumni passing out of the highly expensive, elitist Public Schools which were beyond the reach of all but a few.

3. It short, our defence forces lacked a truly all-India image, character and ethos. The high levels of physical, mental and intellectual attainments needed for induction into the officer cadre could not be nurtured in the common schools mainly because of the lack of infrastructural facilities. A laissez-faire policy to leave it to the already existing, posh Public Schools would be grossly unfair to the bright young children all over the country for whom education in a Public School was beyond their means. All these prompted Defence Minister V K Krishna Menon to envisage a chain of Sainik Schools, one at least in each State. They would serve as feeders to the NDA. Further, they would act as role models and influence other Schools by their example and performance, towards a paradigm shift in objectives. In the pre-independence years and to some extent even today, our system of education is syllabus-examination oriented and not aimed at all-round development and enhancement of competitive skills.

4. The Sainik Schools were to be modeled on the outstanding Public Schools of England, but shorn of their elitism and snobbery. They were to be under the aegis of the Defence Ministry. Control would be vested in a Board of Governors, presided over by the Defence Minster himself. Chief Ministers/Education Ministers would be members of this Board. Further, there would be a Local Board of Administration for each school, chaired by the Senior Service Officer in the region and composed of officers of the State Government (such as the District Collector, Director of School Education, the Secretary in charge of Secondary Education), the local MLA and MP, an acknowledged expert in the field of education and also a parent. The Principal, Headmaster and Registrar would be service officers on deputation. Teaching faculty would be entirely civilian (as in NDA). A liberal system of merit-cum-means scholarships would ensure that lack of affluent parentage would not harm string children from economically weaker sections of Society. Adequate representation and relaxed standards would be there, for SC and ST in consonance with the provisions in the Constitution. Children of the Officers and other ranks would have their quota. States would provide land and buildings and enough scholarships. The Defence Ministry would also finance scholarships and ad-hoc-grants.

5. In the beginning, the ISC system was followed, to be changed to the CBSE pattern from 1972. Classes were then from V to XI. In 1977 the plus two system, VI to XII was instituted. Admission system was modelled on the NDA entrance pattern - comprising of tests in Mathematics, Language, Intelligence and General Knowledge followed by Physical proficiency and sound health as revealed by medical examination.

6. The kind of teachers needed in a residential school and that too, in a Sainik School, was qualitatively different from that in a day School. Not only impeccable academic qualification, years of experience in institutions of higher learning , skill in various games and other types of co-curricular activities, but also high degree of communication skill, empathy, equable temperament, willingness to accept a seven day, twenty four hour stretch of duties and very few holidays. Further, they along with the Matrons would have to fill the void in emotional support and sense of security, inevitable in small children who miss their parents and home life.

7. Punjab was the first state to accept the Sainik School scheme with alacrity and establish the first one in Kapurthala by 1960. Other states followed, including Kerala (in 1961).

8. The Government of Kerala, then headed by Pattom Thanu Pillai chose Kazhakootam to be the venue. An area, nearly 300 acres of undulating terrain was acquired. The ace architect PROF. J C ALEXANDER of the Engineering College, Trivandrum, drew up the plans for all the buildings in the campus. Apart from the academic block, eleven dormitories, each to accommodate fifty boarders, with the House Master's residence on the top of the floor, quarters for officers and all categories of staff, a hospital plus ancillary structures like 'Q' Stores, Mess, Post Office etal were planned. Construction began in February 1962; the Defence Minister laid the foundation stone. In the meantime the School began (on 20-01-1962) in a few barracks lent by the army in Pangode. One special feature of the structures in Kazahkootam was that they were redolent of the traditional Kerala Pattern of "Vastu" and architecture. Multi-storeyed buildings were given a go by.

9. At the inception there was only one teacher for each subject. A total of one hundred and twenty boys joined the school in Classes V, VI, VII & VIII. Six months later IX began with a dozen boys. The first contingent from Punjab too arrived then, to join VI.

10. The founder Principal was a veteran Infantry Officer Lt Col B K Somaiah. The Headmaster was Sqn Ldr Babu Lal and the Registrar Capt (later Major) TVS Nair. By September 1964 construction work in Kazhakootam had reached such a stage, that the school could be shifted there. The rest is, as the cliché goes, a matter of history.

11. The first batch of four cadets from SSKZM joined NDA early in 1965. Thereafter, twice a year it continues with variations in strength. Seniors have reached Lt General / Rear Admiral / Air Marshal ranks.

12. The school has won the Defence Minister's Trophy for the highest in-take to the NDA, quite a few times. Many alumni have been given awards for gallantry in action, the most outstanding example being that of Col N J Nair (Ashok Chakra) (posthumous), besides an earlier Keerti Chakra. Quite a few have died in action, in the highest traditions of the services.

13. The passage of time brought forth an unexpected development. The high academic standard of training in SSKZM was found to be equally useful for various entrance tests such as for the professional colleges and for the merchant marine. It must be admitted that this did bring about a blurring of focus as far as NDA was concerned. The trend continues today, unabated, with many more prestigious targets appearing in the horizon (MBA, Electronics, and Information Technology, the computers, Software and the like).

14. The entire batch of teachers, who joined at Pangode in 1962, has retired from service - a process that commenced in 1990. Having been an integral part of the school and its corporate life for three decades, it would be difficult for them to be objective in their appraisal of the institution and of the training imparted there. Many of them, have had, a flattering experience in their post retirement phase - of eminent personage asking them:- "Tell me - what is so unique in SSKZM? I happen to know many of our old students and am pleasantly surprised at their work culture, skills and amiability". The answer has been of the pattern "it is their own innate talents come to full bloom in a reasonably supportive, though far from the ideal environment. We tried our best to make it a good school. The students made it a great one".

15. A large country like ours would naturally have various types of Schools, each different model of development. It would be difficult and perhaps unnecessary, to replicate the ethos of one in the other. Our own Old Boys are the best persons to assess the good points and also the weak ones of SSKZM. It is their success, which has brought name and fame to the alma mater. Most of our alumni would testify to the validity of the following points:-

(a) The formidable infrastructure for academic and co-curricular development. The well-equipped, BSc level laboratories - separate for each science subject, induction of boys right from the lowest class into practical work and experimentation (as opposed to mere demonstration by the teacher) are the most enviable facilities without any doubt. In most schools practical work is just to pass the hurdle of the external (Board) practical examination to be faced at the end of XII. But in SSKZM it is essentially a powerful, though expensive means of enhancing competitive skill and personality development subliminally. For the students Science laboratories are as familiar as their class rooms. Apart from the need to supplement theory, boys are permitted even encouraged to undertake projects of their own choice.

(b) There is complete academic freedom, subject to the day's tough schedule. Stress is laid not on learning by role and on short term, though glamorous achievements like cent percent pass, number of first classes, distinctions etc, but on learning in depth, for the more enduring success at higher levels and in various carriers open to them. Follow-up of the track records of over four thousand students who have passed out of the portals, confirms the not-so-popularly held belief that brilliance in the earlier years does not necessarily presage its continuity in later stages and also vice-versa. How successful a student is in his attempts to enter a consequential career; how well he progresses in it, is the real end. Marks in examinations are at best a means to that end. Unlike ordinary schools and colleges, SSKZM maintains records of the alumni and updates them, mainly through the Old Boys Association, which works in close support with the School Administration.

(c) The tough schedule of work, beginning with the PT in the early morning and culminating in studies in the dormitory, fairly late in the night, optimum utilization of time and opportunities and close contact with teaches even outside the classrooms are all admittedly, too demanding for all, in the beginning. But soon, the mind and body get acclimatized to the regimen. Pressure and tension in most cases bring out putative talents and gifts. True; about five percent of the entrants in VI get withdrawn or dropout. So too did many entrants to the faculties who hoped for a cushy, soft job with plenty of free time and holidays, common elsewhere in the profession.

(d) A Campus life totally free from linguistic, communal and social bias, well insulated from the sordid strife and discords which bedevil student life outside.

(e) The profusion of facilities for sports, games and martial arts. The aim is not to make a few champions or to publicise success in inter-school fixtures. Instead, it is continued exposure to major games (Football, Hockey, Cricket, Volleyball, and Basketball) and constant practice, which would engender personality development and competitive ability in so many ways - invaluable assets, always at a premium, for a career in the services. The earlier batches had the advantages of training in equitation and swimming too.

(f) The obligatory NCC training, adventure courses, cross country racing, route marches, ceremonial parades, pride in uniform and smart turn-out, the library habit, regular involvement in group discussions, debates, dramas - all these are immensely helpful in personality development.

(g) The true worth of any educational institution lies in the quality of the student-teacher interaction. It is indeed mutually beneficial - for the students in their pursuit of excellence and for the teachers, drawing out the best from each (teacher). This is further enhanced by a harmonious blending of the civilian and military ethos, perceptions and value systems. The filial affection cherished by the alumni for their alma mater and their mentors is in refreshing contrast from what is prevalent elsewhere.

(h) An active alumni association which has local chapters in all cities in the country and quite a few outside too. Every year there is the Reunion in the campus in the month of June. The OBA has instituted many endowments, awards and trophies, many of them in the motivational material are all annual features. Many Old Boys and some retired Masters too, earmark one percent of their annual income for the OBA.

16. This account will not be complete without referring to certain disquieting features of recent origin. Time does mellow everything created by man. SSKZM can no longer rest on past laurels. It must earn fresh ones now. The dynamism and all-consuming zeal, almost like a spiritual urge in the first decade, seem to be on the wane. The all-too familiar "Government School" atmosphere and pre-occupation with immediate goals have made inroads. The young members in the faculties, who succeeded the Pangode batch, are certainly better qualified and talented to add fresh lustre to the school. But the boys miss the father figures and mother figures of yester years, so indispensable to them, to compensate for the loss in proximity to their own parents and the emotional support of home life.

17. The Dairy Farm and Poultry farm deserve to be revived. At least one half of the Campus area could be converted to a plantation. If it remains fallow or under-utilised any longer, there is chance of it being taken over by the State Government and put to profitable use. Already, this has commenced in a small way. Unlike many other Sainik Schools, SSKZM still does not have a swimming pool and stables (equitation). If both are unviable in the present stage, boys could make use of the facilities in Trivandrum (as in the past).These two skills are extremely helpful in the NDA phase. A Nursery School and LPS with the SSKZM features suitably toned down is a worthwhile, incoming -generating project.

18. Sainik Schools in other states have already done all these. There is no valid reason why SSKZM should hesitate any longer.

May SSKZM maintain and improve its pride of place in the years to come!
(This article was written by Sri NB Nair, Founder OBA in 2006)