Published: 22nd April 2022
Half the students eligible for higher education do not have good study opportunities in Kasaragod, finds study
This study suggests improving the quality of teachers, sanctioning of in-demand courses and developing the infrastructure of existing institutes
More than half of the students who qualify for higher education do not have opportunities to study in Kasaragod district, found a study commissioned by the Students Federation of India (SFI), the students' wing of the CPM.
The in-depth report on the status of higher education in the district recommended more colleges, including All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), law and nursing colleges, improving the quality of college teachers, sanctioning of relevant and in-demand courses and developing the infrastructure of existing institutes. Unlike schools, there is little public and media attention on institutes of higher education and that is why Kasaragod is lagging behind other districts, said historian C Balan, a member of the seven-member commission. The other members of the commission were Dr Sheena Shukkur, Head of Department of Law in Kannur University, Dr Rajesh Bejjamgala, Head of Department of Kannada in Kannur University; cultural activist and teacher Sajeevan K V, senior journalist Vinod Payam, IIM Ranchi assistant professor Dr Ranjith R and SFI Kasaragod's district secretary Albin Mathew.
"The inadequate number of seats and colleges directly impacts the future of students from the Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste communities, who cannot afford seats in private colleges," said Dr Balan, who retired from Nehru Arts and Science College in Kanhangad. "Kasaragod could be the only district without a government medical college, a government engineering college or a nursing college," he added. "There is an urgent need to make course corrections in the higher education sector," he went on to say.
Findings of the study
Around 13,970 students in Kasaragod district completed Class XII and are eligible for higher education. But the district has fewer than 7,000 seats in colleges, including polytechnics, the report said. The institutes in the district lack new-generation and relevant courses. The teachers in the higher education sector are underqualified, found the study. "All these factors are forcing students of Kasaragod to join colleges in Mangaluru and other districts. Those who cannot afford, drop out," said Dr Balan.
According to the report, Kasaragod district has 21 Arts and Science colleges affiliated to Kannur University. Of them, five are government colleges, three are aided colleges, ten are self-financing colleges and three off-site campuses of Kannur University. Among professional institutes, the district has a self-financing engineering college (LBS), a private dental college in Poinachi and an ayurveda college in Parakalai, and three polytechnics, including two run by the government, and an agriculture college. There are ten ITIs. The district also has four teachers' training colleges offering BEd degrees and two private nursing colleges. The district is also home to the Central University of Kerala.
Based on the recommendations of the study, the government should improve the infrastructure in colleges, increase the number of seats and introduce job-oriented courses. The government should start a marine institute, considering a large number of residents in Kottikulam and Uppala and the rest of the district find jobs in commercial shipping lines. "Now, most of them are doing unskilled jobs in the ships. With a marine institute, they can find better and higher-paying jobs," said Dr Balan.
Importantly, the SFI commission recommended that the state government set up an AIIMS in Kasargod and not in Kozhikode as currently planned. The poor students should be given scholarships, stipends and grants so that they can access private and self-financing colleges. The off-site campuses of Kannur University at Chala and Pallathadam are riddled with problems. Govinda Pai College in Manjeshwar has recently started an LLM course and an LLB course should also be started in the college, it said. Started in 1984, the college still has only four undergraduate courses and one PG course. "The college should have new courses such as BSc Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, Forensic Science, English, Arabic, Urdu and Sociology," the report said. The report said the LBS College of Engineering was maintaining good standards but is still not the first choice for the top rankers. Similarly, the private dental college in Poinachi has not been embraced by the public yet.
Additionally, many students from the hill panchayats join nursing colleges in Mangaluru. The government should start a nursing college in Kasaragod to cater to them, especially against the backdrop of COVID-19, the study suggested. The study also recommended polytechnics in hill panchayats such as Paivalige, Balal and Kuttikol. Skill development centres should be started in Central University of Kerala and District Institute of Education and Training at Maipady.