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Showing a can-do spirit in the realm of education

ABDUL LATHEEF NAHA
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Malabar is up with the best in education. Its children have proved that they are second to none in studies.

Education in Malabar has of late been witnessing growth with more students bringing in laurels and new schools, colleges and universities coming up. The concept of inclusive education, propounded by educationists and the University Grants Commission, has been well received by the education planners of Malabar.

The presence of six universities, including the new Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University in Tirur, and the plan for starting an English and foreign languages university in Panakkad are a pointer to the future of education in Malabar. Four of the six universities are in Malappuram, the district with the lowest gross enrolment ratio in higher education in Kerala.

Notwithstanding the arrival of institutions of higher learning such as the Central University of Kerala in Kasaragod, the Malappuram centre of Aligarh Muslim University and the Malayalam University, the University of Calicut and Kannur University stand poised to continue as the backbone of Malabar’s higher education for some more years.

“It will take eight to 10 years for a new university to strike roots. No university is built in a day,” P.K. Abdul Azis, former Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University and Cochin University of Science and Technology, says.

“But these institutions (new universities) have sown the seeds of a massive expansion. A strong foundation for the future has been laid.”

He says the University of Calicut and Kannur University should streamline themselves for the future. The University of Calicut, the largest in Kerala having 304 affiliated colleges, looks unwieldy for the future. “A change is necessary to cope with future development,” Dr. Azis says. But the change is needed at the lower level too, K. Kutty Ahamed Kutty, former Local Self-Government Minister, says.

“True, the students of Malabar have, of late, been winning ranks in almost all professional entrance examinations, including that of the All India Institute of Medical Science. But those in the lower tier of society are still to get better opportunities for higher education,” Mr. Kutty says.

The differences between the haves and have-nots are starkly reflected in school education.

While a vast majority of the students from poor economic backgrounds go to government and aided schools, those having the economic wherewithal turn to private schools. “This is where we should pay our attention. A girl from Kadalundi belonging to the fishermen community last year could not take up her merit seat at Pushpagiri Medical College because she could not afford the fees. Instead, she opted to do the nursing course at the Government Medical College, Kozhikode. That was sad,” he says.

Educationists like T.P. Ibrahim Khan, president of the CBSE School Managements’ Association, have been advocating the importance of strengthening school education at the primary level.

“Make them strong. Give them a strong platform to stand at school level. Then they will climb on their own,” Mr. Khan says.

The Malappuram district panchayat set a model by launching a bold initiative such as “Vijayabheri” a few years ago.

ABDUL LATHEEF NAHA