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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Thursday, 22 February 2024 2.50 AM IST

Kerala's higher education faces uncertainity

education

The higher education institutions in Kerala have earned commendable rankings due to substantial investments in infrastructure, innovative courses, advanced research facilities and a dedication to teaching excellence. However, ensuring the sustained enhancement of these facilities and maintaining high educational standards involves significant financial requirements for universities and institutions. The central government has pledged an essential Rs 700 crore assistance for Kerala's higher education sector. Yet, a deadlock has emerged due to disagreements over the National Education Policy's acceptance.

The central government's stipulation for providing this aid is the unconditional acceptance of the National Education Policy. However, the state government of Kerala opposes certain provisions within the policy, claiming they are detrimental to students' interests. As a result, Kerala has submitted a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) omitting these contentious conditions. Regrettably, the Centre has not approved this adjusted MoU, hindering Kerala's access to these vital funds for higher education. Consequently, Kerala has not initiated the process to upload plans for utilizing the central funds in its higher education sector.

The primary bone of contention for Kerala is the provision within the National Education Policy that permits an exit option after the first year in a four-year degree course. Under this provision, students who complete the first-year examination in a four-year course obtain a certificate. After completing the second year, they receive a diploma certificate. However, Kerala contends that if the exit option is available each year, it may lead to widespread dropouts, posing significant challenges in administering the courses effectively.

Another critical point of contention is the restriction on credit-transfer facilities, which allow students who drop out of courses for any reason to complete the remainder of their courses either within the same institution or elsewhere, even after several years. Kerala advocates for a more relaxed approach to this facility across all colleges, without stringent conditions. Moreover, while waiting for approval to utilize the allocated Rs 700 crores, Kerala has been preparing detailed plans for innovative projects, teacher training, and various educational enhancements. For instance, Kerala University alone has developed projects worth Rs. 100 crores.

The pressing concern remains that the central assistance might be revoked if the National Education Policy is not accepted in its entirety. Therefore, it is crucial to consider not only the existence of educational institutions but also the welfare and convenience of the students while making final decisions regarding higher education policies. The prospect of a student enrolling in a four-year degree course and potentially opting for a different field of study or seeking employment after completing two years with a diploma certificate raises concerns.

Mass dropouts due to the exit facility could severely impact the effective management of courses. A pragmatic approach is urgently required to safeguard continued central aid for higher education in Kerala while balancing the practicalities of policy implementation and students' interests.

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