Kerala Assembly: Opposition attempts to pin down govt for disruptive migration of students to foreign countries

UDF storms out of Kerala Assembly accusing government of adopting ‘an ostrich attitude’ by disregarding realities that constrained the youth to abandon their homeland and ageing parents for low-grade jobs and substandard education in far-flung countries

Published - July 11, 2024 01:21 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Congress legislator Mathew Kuzhalnadan’s notice for an adjournment debate on the socially, economically and demographically disruptive exodus of students ignites a heated discussion in Kerala Assembly.

Congress legislator Mathew Kuzhalnadan’s notice for an adjournment debate on the socially, economically and demographically disruptive exodus of students ignites a heated discussion in Kerala Assembly. | Photo Credit: Illustration by Satheesh Vellinezhi

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition on July 11 tried to pin down the Kerala government in the Assembly for the worrying outflow of students from the State to foreign countries.

The Opposition stormed out of the House, accusing the government of adopting “an ostrich attitude” by disregarding pressing social, educational, economic and political realities that constrained the youth to abandon their homeland and ageing parents for low-grade jobs and substandard education in far-flung countries.

Congress legislator Mathew Kuzhalnadan’s notice for an adjournment debate on the socially, economically and demographically disruptive exodus ignited a heated discussion.

Mr. Kuzhalnadan said Kerala students’ dismal performance in national tests flew in the face of Higher Education Minister R. Bindu’s refrain that the State was the optimal destination for the aspirational youth.

He accused successive Left governments of sacrificing the State’s economic interests on the altar of utopian ideological rigidity. Kerala, for one, missed the boat in turning the State into an economically and socially vibrant IT hub.

Mr. Kuzhalnadan said peer pressure, financial enticements and the surrealistic appeal of living, learning and working in developed and liberal cities prompted the youth exodus.

‘No promised land’

However, Mr. Kuzhalnadan said many found, to their dismay, that there was no promised land. The high cost of living and education forced students to work weekends and extended hours in low-end jobs, pawn houses or borrow from financially hard-pressed parents to make ends meet.

Mr. Kuzhalnadan raised the spectre of brain drain. “There is no brain gain for the State as few accomplished international students return to Kerala given the dismal lack of research and development facilities and almost nil scope of investment”, he added. 

Minister counters

Ms. Bindu countered that Kerala ranked among the first five start-up destinations in the world. Its colleges and universities were among the best in the country. The State was transforming itself into a knowledge economy. She said globalisation, easy availability of educational loans, earn-and-learn opportunities and peer pressure have made student migration a global phenomenon.

Highest unemployment rate: Satheesan

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan pointed out that scores of colleges in Kerala were shutting down, leaving seats vacant for coveted courses. The dispute between the government and the Governor has rendered State universities rudderless. “Kerala is no utopia for the youth. For one, it has among the highest unemployment rates in the country”, he added.

Speaker A.N. Shamseer denied the Opposition’s notice.

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