Stress on improving quality of higher education

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said here on Saturday that the government would ensure that the decision to grant autonomous status to institutions of higher education came to fruition shortly. He said there would be no change in stance on the controversial recommendation put forth by a committee constituted by the Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC). He was addressing the gathering at All Saints’ College after formally inaugurating its golden jubilee year celebrations on Saturday.

“We seem to be retreating in terms of quality of higher education and the government has the responsibility to take the sector forward and ensure that the youth are provided ample opportunities. Science and technology are taking rapid strides and education should keep pace with it,” said the Minister.

Entrepreneurship

He said the government gave top priority to motivating youth to help them realise their potential, which was why emphasis was being laid on the flagship Student Entrepreneurship Policy. The idea was conceived at the Emerging Kerala meet a year ago. September 12 would henceforth be observed as Entrepreneurship Day, said Mr. Chandy, lauding the 1,000-odd contributions made so far.

“Most of the applications were related to the IT sector. Innovative projects should also cover other areas as such as agriculture, tourism, health, arts, and culture,” Mr. Chandy said.

Minister for Health V.S. Sivakumar who unveiled the golden jubilee logo at the function, said medical education would improve significantly in the coming years with the setting up of eight new government medical colleges in the State. The first college was inaugurated in Manjeri last week.

Better infrastructure, more technology, more teachers’ training facilities, more research-based institutions, autonomy for institutions, and paving the way for greater internationalisation of institutions were needed to reach the level of ‘world-class’ universities, said vice-chairman of the KSHEC T.P. Sreenivasan, who was invited to inaugurate the intercollegiate competitions this academic year.

Autonomy to colleges

“Finance is not an issue. What we need is a change in mindset. There is need to educate the young people to meet the challenges of the 21 century. While there are thousands in the country, there is not one autonomous institution in Kerala. The government made a significant decision to grant autonomy to colleges who volunteer and have the capacity to be independent,” said Mr. Sreenivasan. He added that the protests against the decision were baseless and allegations of ills that the system would bring were contrary to the philosophy that the students, teachers, and institutions would, in fact, be more empowered.

He spoke about the other recommendations of the Council, which includes the setting up of a university-style teachers’ education academy this year and bringing in a State Assessment and Accreditation Council to replace the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) inspections.

“No educational system can flourish in isolation,” Mr. Sreenivasan said, adding that the concept of ‘cluster colleges’ should be encouraged. Lida Jacob, Advisor, Gender and Child Protection, released the jubilee documentary film directed by Lenin Rajendran.

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