Thursday, July 29, 2021

Higher education in Kerala needs a new chapter

There are many duties the LDF authorities should pay attention to in its focus to rework the State into a information society

The latest election manifesto of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) authorities of Kerala opens with the assertion, “we are entering a new phase in rebuilding Kerala” and guarantees to usher in a “sustainable development model”. Higher education is undoubtedly the vital dynamic to set off artistic transformation in a society. The Budget speech on January 15, 2021 (the final Budget of the earlier authorities) and the revised Budget speech on June 4, (first Budget of the new authorities) in the Legislative Assembly reiterate the federal government’s resolve “to rapidly transform” Kerala into a information financial system and society. The new Budget introduced that the federal government will appoint a high power commission “to examine” and “reorganize” the education system


of the State. Restructuring increased education is a much-needed step in Kerala’s transformation into a information society.

I elevate three points for dialogue: a long time of unplanned linear growth; declining high quality and compromise with mediocrity, and widening inequality in financial and social alternatives.


Expansion of schools

One, the linear growth of arts and science schools and even skilled schools impartial of the needs of the financial system particularly over the last 30 years coincides with the accelerated move of overseas remittance for the reason that financial reforms of 1991. With no prudent coverage to channelise these sources for productive functions, education proved to be a profitable funding candidate for a lot of together with highly effective social teams. Following the direct fee settlement with aided non-public schools in September 1972, the State took the duty of paying the salaries of academics and non-teaching workers moreover offering upkeep grants. With no efficient social management on trainer appointments, donations, capitation charges and a number of other corrupt practices elevated, vitiating the tutorial setting and objectives. Arts and science schools affiliated to universities elevated from 172 in 1991 to 958 in 2020, a 5.5 occasions development. Of these, 476, or almost 50%, are self-financing schools.

Instructively, out of the 1.37 lakh college students enrolled in these schools for B.A. programs, english, economics and historical past alone account for 61% of the full enrolment in 2020. Again, 69% of the M.A. programs are in these three topics. Similarly for B.Sc. programs, arithmetic and physics alone account for 41.3% of the 1.05 lakh college students enrolled. Over 40% of those that are enrolled for M.Sc., take these two topics. These linear reproductions could possibly be the expression of the helplessness of a pupil neighborhood with no different choices earlier than them.

Can we confidently say that increased education in Kerala fulfils the goals of the youth to turn into nice scientists, entrepreneurs, economists, students and others? This doesn’t ignore the truth that pupil politics has groomed a era of confirmed political leaders.


Relevance and high quality

Two, the linear replica of conventional programs in the colleges raises the foundational query of relevance and high quality. Surprisingly, no political get together posited this challenge as essential. No one in all probability needs Kerala among the many high 100 universities of the world or entertain such excessive hopes. Indeed, increased education has an essential instrumental and intrinsic function to play. Equipped with no life-skills or employability capabilities, the fast development of upper education can solely swell the ranks of the unemployed. The growth of liberal arts and sciences has not considerably promoted higher public reasoning, open-ended discussions, higher gender-justice and nourished excessive democratic values.


All branches of upper education together with technical education now work on a self-financing mode. In Kerala, there are solely 19 autonomous schools. There is opposition from academics and college students to this concept. An excellent autonomous instructional establishment calls for top quality curriculum, syllabus, pedagogy and analysis. As the primary professor (1976-80) on the Dr. John Matthai Centre of the Calicut University, I can confidently testify that devoted workforce work with a well-designed curriculum and syllabus, train guide, mission work, seminars, goal inner evaluation and pupil analysis can produce excellent college students, How the mission was deserted can present many classes. Mediocrity can by no means be the essence of change. Today, that 26% of academics in the humanities and science schools of Kerala fall in the class of ‘guest lecturers’ is simply an affirmation of mediocrity. Mending and reforming the present scenario are a nice problem.

Also learn | Kerala HC order opens a Pandora’s box in the higher education sector

The current authorities has introduced a goal to double the gross enrolment ratio (18-23) from 37% at current to 75% in the subsequent 5 years. This is a objective to be pursued with nice planning. Many a wealthy and center class of Kerala (together with non-resident Indians) ship their wards outdoors. Given the highly effective vested pursuits in the academic arrange and the disorientation that exists, a critique of the epistemological foundations of the present mannequin is a desideratum.

Issue of commercialisation

Three, the rising commercialisation of education in Kerala has deeply eroded the State’s egalitarian narratives of the previous and weakened the scope for enhancing equality of alternative. The rising inequality in the distribution of property, earnings and consumption of households in Kerala (a well-documented phenomenon) has significantly exacerbated the scenario of the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), fisher people, plantation labour and different susceptible teams. The self-financing schools in engineering, medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy schools have just about priced out a sizeable proportion of those classes. The rising digital divide underneath the pandemic dispensation impacts these teams greater than others. The SC/STs who didn’t considerably take part in the Gulf-boom face the double whammy of marginalisation.


Women’s unemployment fee

Kerala can take delight in the truth that out of the three.32 lakh college students in the humanities and science schools in 2019-20, 67.7% are women and 57.2% of the academics are ladies. Even so, the labour power participation fee is low and the unemployment fee of ladies could be very excessive in Kerala. For instance, based on the periodic labour power survey (2018-19) of the Government of India, the unemployment fee amongst females in rural Kerala (15-29 years) is 57.8% as towards 13.8% in India as a complete. Judging from the bigger perspective of democracy and social justice, Kerala’s ladies don’t play a vital company function in the transformation of its financial system, society and polity.

To conclude, the Revised Budget reaffirms the resolve of the current authorities to construct a new Kerala, based mostly on a information society. Several steps corresponding to Okay-FON (Kerala Fibre Optic Network), the Okay-DISC (Kerala Development and Innovation Strategic Council), Knowledge Economy Mission and lots of others in the pipeline demand devoted teamwork. Collective rethinking of all stakeholders, lecturers and coverage resolution makers is a vital want.

M.A. Oommen is Honorary Fellow, Centre for Development Studies and Distinguished Professor, Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation, Thiruvananthapuram

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