Focus on engineering education

The Opposition walked out of the Assembly on Friday alleging that the government policies in the education sector went counter to the recent High Court judgment directing the government take specific measures to improve the quality of engineering education in Kerala.

The walkout came during the zero hour when Speaker G. Karthikeyan, after listening to the government’s reply, declined permission to the CPI(M) MLA P. Sreeramakrishnan to move an adjournment motion to discuss the implications of the judgment in the context of the engineering admissions that would start shortly.

Announcing the walkout, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said it was a pity the government should back out a discussion on the topic since the judgment meant the closing down of 70 of the 105 self-financing private engineering colleges in the State since they had been consistently achieving less than 40 per cent pass in the B.Tech. examinations.

He said the admissions were to start shortly. The verdict of the Division Bench of the Kerala High Court had come in a case filed by certain groups that were denied sanction for starting new self-financing engineering colleges when the LDF was in power. The verdict was one intended for the good of all the students. It was during the time of the A.K. Antony government that the policy to allow private self-financing engineering colleges was introduced. Mr. Antony himself had said later on that the private managements had betrayed the government. The verdict should be used as an opportunity to rein in the private managements. Instead, the government was out and out with the managements as was evident from all government decisions, Mr. Balakrishnan alleged.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the examination results the court had relied on pertained to the period when the LDF was in power. “Yes, there are grave problems in the sector. We all should sit together and take decisions,” he said.

Former Education Minister M.A. Baby alleged that the conditions in the agreement the government had signed with the private managements were against the spirit of the court judgment. For instance, there was a clause in the agreement stating that a student needed only write the entrance examinations —and not pass — to be admitted to a private engineering college, Mr. Baby said.