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After planting acacia (an alien species to our natural grasslands and forests) since 1950s, now the officials has started to discourage planting it (at least) in reserve forests. This is, definitely, a welcome move. Even though these plantations created sufficient negative impacts in our environment, such a move by realizing the reality is nothing but a developmental activity in the right direction. According to official records (of those states where Western Ghats pass through) lacks of acres of public land is already covered under acacia in addition to new proposed private areas. Considering fast growth, sturdy trunks and minimum maintenance, profitability in timber business and external funding, forests departments in different states overwhelmingly supported this alien species for afforestation in the past. But we believe that the present ban of acacia in public land alone cannot address the issue completely.
There is a political economy of acacia which helped in its growth. Timber has an extensive market in India and it is giving rich dividends too. It was the 1845 legislature gave the green signal to replace natural forests with mono-culture plants which later gave space for plantations of rubber, teak, eucalyptus, acacia etc in a tremendous speed. Plywood and furniture industries are the biggest buyers of timber in addition for firewood purposes.
For commercial purposes like timber industry acacia is best suited. Market is run by expectations of profit. Acacia is easy to plant, saplings are cheap, costless to maintain, no threat of cattle grazing, quick growth and strong wood. Acacia is richly profitable in market whereas other native species have low survival rate, poor germination and expensive maintenance. In the beginning it was state funding led to their plantation and later external agencies like World Bank. Now considering the expensive cultivation, only with sufficient availability of funds for other native species we can minimize the presence of acacia.
There is an ecological point of view too. Every plant has a natural environment and they can contribute environmental disasters if planted elsewhere. Acacia is one of the best plants for arid regions like Australia. But in India particularly around tropical Western Ghats it will behave like a landmine. Acacia is naturally made to exploit water as much as possible if not it cannot survive in water short arid regions. Plus it reduces the fertility of soil. Soil fertility is created by the presence of micro-organisms in soil for which water and other bio-degradable elements are required. It is provided by leaves and other parts of plants. Presence of phenolic and lignin in acacia leaves are high which makes they slow in decaying. In the next stage these components makes soil more acidic which destroys other micro organisms. More worrying is the colonizing nature of this tree. A mature tree will disperse their seeds even to farthest location through wind. Thus acacia ensure the destruction of local eco systems. If one acacia is there in the vicinity, no other species will survive in the entire area within some years; thatswhy it became the dominant invasive tree species in the world ecology.
But mere cutting down of existing ones and zero plantation of new acacia saplings will not restore the ecology. The long plantation of such species of trees restructured the soil and water tables against natural vegetation. It is taking thousands of years’ natural process in order to evolve a particular vegetation in a locality. When that order is suddenly destroyed (by monoculture plantations or dams or alien species) it will take a long time for nature to cure it. Thus high level political decisions must be taken with sufficient economic back up in order to restore our natural ecology as like as the case of eliminating landmines from earth.
The whole issue points out to the poor research works we conduct in our nation. Acacia was planted in different states as different government supported projects with internal and external funding. By 1990s itself various studies found the ecological threats of such alien species and monoculture plantations but neither forest nor other departments gave any importance to this. But due to increasing public awareness and resultant outrage they forced to take such steps at present. Let it continue. Remember not only an alien species like eucalyptus and pine but monoculture plantations (not forests), too, poses a threat to our bio-diversity as well as environment. As celebrating another environmental day, we must realize how valuable was our natural plants; hence our environmental protests should not end with elimination of acacia.
My young brothers and sisters, it is not just the beginning of an ordinary month but June is special. It is revolutionary in thoughts. It is rebelistic in blood. It is romantic with rain. It is brave like Che Guvera and Birsa Munda. It is hope in the darkness with Santhal rebellion. It is river of hope with nature’s day and it is remainder of eternal vigilance with national emergency. Yes, June is special for all of us.
In these days of dictatorships in many Asian, African and Latin American countries, Che can’t become just a memory or a statue or a t-shirt emblem. No, he can’t. He is the thundering voice of a voiceless society. When Batista’s soul remains here, Che can’t chained in graves. Birsa is reborned as many. Now we call him in many names. Some call him Jignesh, some call him Shehla. Some call him Kanhaiya, Ajayan, Irom or Binayak …. His uncompromising guerrilla warfare in the forests of Bihar against mighty Britishers were incomparable in these days of starwars. He never scared to look at the eyes of opponents. Unfortunately, the academic India never studied Birsa with required importance. He is not even in the text books of many states here; that shows the Brahmanical discrimination against subaltern heroes in our yester times.
This June is covered in the blood of thousands of students who were massacred by communist China’s bullets. These youngsters were not violent. They not even had a nail cutter when gathered at Tiananmen Square in June 1989. What they had was bright and progressive thoughts about an egalitarian society. They believed that their OWN government will address their demands with a reason. But they were wrong. Dictatorship and state supremacy are not strange to communism too. The state killed its people.
The June of 1975 witnessed the biggest democracy of the world becoming the slave of state power – AGAIN. Once by outsiders and this time by its own elected government. Remember – history repeats rather as a tragedy. My friends never forget those who lost their lives in that state dictated emergency & never forgive those who reasoned with it.
Environment day is not another date in calendar. We need trees and rivers. Planting a tree is nothing but development. Reviving a river is the biggest revolution. Make our environment more greenish. Make more streams. These plantations are not for us but for our grand children. Give them clean air and water, shades of leaves and sound of birds than bullets, castes and borders. Give them love, not religions.
India lost two of its prime ministers (in addition to many others) due to terrorism. We may have disagreements with government on number of issues; but that does not stop us to say loudly that we are against terrorism. We are living in a time where states rather directly support (or to be precisely sponsor) terrorist activities in order to gain in bargaining. There is a wide spread but efficiently knitted social, political, cultural or other multiple supporting mechanisms in order to (at least) weaken those efforts against terrorism; hence nothing but eternal vigilance of public should make a decisive move in this direction.
But we must agree that this area is grey as well as flippery. Those referred as Kashmiri terrorists by Indian officials are independent activists for Pakisthan. When Pakisthan refer those movements in Baluchisthan as terrorism, India Government address it as independence movement. We saw the same in Tamil Elam movements in Sri Lanka. We can see this contradictory arguments world over historically. It is better that no governments financially or strategically interfere in other country’s issues. Every nation has much to do for their own people. Taking sides in such matters are only going to cost much beyond any calculations in the long run. Remember that those who are approaching you as the ENEMY of their ENEMY for their OWN AGENDA will definitely SEEK SUPPORT of YOUR ENEMY against you tomorrow. Any independence movements should be people’s movements and not group’s isolated initiatives; and people’s movements will be funded by common people themselves. It is better to consider Indian independence movement led by Gandhiji as a model for such efforts.
It is important to remember that those who are sponsoring you not for genuine reasons are simply going to loot you in the future. All nations have calculations and it is not political but economic reasons drive nation’s interests in other nations issues. History has sufficient examples to support this.
But it is not only about transborder terrorism. Including India, many nations are facing internal armed struggles. We condemn them too. Democracy has many limitations; it is weak in several conditions. We must agree but that should not stop us from improvising its potential to address contemporary issues. It is the suitable structure, developed so far, in order to address common people’s collective issues. Armed struggle is neither an alternative not a viable option to democracy.
But state can’t terrorise its own people too. The concept of federal states, without individual regions consent, is nothing but farce. A nation becomes big not when its size enlarges but only when its people wholeheartedly get united; not when armed forces become most efficient but when its common people command peace and harmony to everyone else; not when its borders get fortified but when it opens its universities, play grounds and valleys open for people world over and when others care for your nation. Wars and armed struggles are realities of past; they can’t become the guiding principle of present and vision of the future. People of the world must come together now to raise their brains against terrorism and to strengthen democracy.
“There are still wonders left in this world”. Yes, even though embarrassing, it is believable. Zealandia is expected to be recognized as a continent soon. The claim for recognition is demanded by some geographers of New Zealand who are studying about the ocean floor around New Zealand for more than twenty years. Their claims were published in the latest February-March edition of Geographical Society of America Today (GSA Today), which is considered as one of the most reputed research journals in the field of geosciences (or earth science which is studying about planet earth) published by Geographical Society of America founded in 1888. Nick Mortimer, the leading scientist of the team published the article along with his colleagues with all the necessary home worked details for their claim.
The landmass is nothing newly discovered as it was there for lakhs of years but never had any sufficient data to recognize as a separate continent but considered only as part of Australia. Zealandia is on the right side of Australia when we are looking on a map. The name ‘Zealandia’ is given by Bruce Luyendyk in 1995. It has New Caledonia on the northern side, Auckland and Campbell islands on south, Lord Howe Island on the west and Chathams on the east. The present New Zealand which is so far a part of continent Australia is part of Zealandia now. New Zealand as well as New Candelia is the biggest land masses of this continent that is standing above water as 94% of this Zealandia is submerged in water now. Hence you can doubt how such a place on earth can be called a continent. Well there are some fundamental conditions for terming a landmass as continent. They are 1)the landmass should be higher than ocean floor 2) it must have larger stock of siliceous igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks 3) comparing to surrounding ocean floor, it must have a thicker crust and 4) the land mass should be large enough (but how much large is not defined). But the challenge in front of GNS scientists is different – so far there is no internationally recognized agency to confirm status of continents, it is only through academic discourses such a feather can be given to Zealandia.
Remember, Zealandia is not newly discovered but now claimed to be a continent because many under sea geographical features related to the land mass is added to our knowledge. It is as like as discovering new features of continent Mauritius under sea which helped the Witwatersrand University researchers to prove that there is a hidden continent called Mauritia. It was in 2006, International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto from planet to dwarf planet citing that a ‘planet should not be surrounded by objects of similar size and characteristics’ after discovering ‘details’. But, in 2014, IAU planet definition committee chairperson Owen Gingerich (Science historian, Harvard University) argued that a planet is a culturally defined word that changes over time; hence Pluto should be recognized as a planet. This is the case with Mesentery (a part of human body proposed for organ status) too. Medical experts knew Mesentery as a tissue between intestines and abdomen. Now with the help of latest microscopic studies it was proved that mesentery is an independent organ.
It is equally important to understand the power politics behind geographical identities too. Or otherwise we must assert that continents are identified not only from geographical conditions, but political equations play an equally important role. If not it will be Eurasia (the term used for referring Asia and Europe together) at present. Anyway we can expect that Zealandia will be ranked as the 8th continent in our primary class text books soon.
Expansion without Inclusiveness : the Achilles’ heel of Higher Education in Kerala – Praveen PilasseryMarch 5th, 2017
In the rapidly changing global society, quantity and quality of human resources determine a nation’s competency among others (Tilak 2001). Enhancement of human resources is ensured, particularly, by education and among its different layers, higher education occupies a crucial position in ensuring better capabilities for both individuals and societies. The case of Kerala is not different. The state government of Kerala continue to neglect the sector or by merely highlighting the importance of higher education along with the financial paucity of the public exchequer, leave the sector for complete privatisation; as in one side it is pure private higher education and in the other it is privatisation of public sector higher education facilities. In the above context, we may address the inclusiveness of Kerala’s expanding higher education sector.
Until 1990s the existing public sector colleges mostly provided non-professional disciplines which forced many students to leave the State for procuring professional education (George & Kumar 1999). But the increasing requirements of higher education facilities in the State made it imperative to mobilize more resources towards the expansion of the sector. Then the State government decided to invite private investment. This resulted in a phenomenal increase in the number of self financing colleges¹ (Kulavelil, 2001). But deficiency of higher education cannot be addressed by mere expansion of the number of Self Financing Colleges (SFC). These colleges may concentrate in certain regions or in selected disciplines. Along with economic growth, when the sector expands, it has a tendency to cater the affluent sections further i.e. massification of higher education does not eliminate the tendencies of eliteness. However an inclusive approach will transform such circumstances. Inclusive higher education tries to broaden the flow of benefits of expansion and enhancement of the sector towards the excluded communities.
1.1 What is inclusive higher education?
Rather an end, inclusiveness is regarding as the strategy of development process in any sector; hence it is a multidimensional concept. Inclusiveness ensures the better accessibility of qualitative higher educational facilities to all eligible and willing pupils. It will reflect in the increased enrollments of dalits, women, physically handicapped and all other weaker sections as well as the availability of institutions in backward regions too. Inclusive higher education will ensure availability of conventional as well as new generation courses with all the modifications from time to time. In such a scenario, the required infrastructure and other amenities which are essential for ensuring qualitative academic environment will be provided. Simultaneously, it will ensure better participation and co-ordination of all stakeholders in the sector. Inclusive development ensures not merely the improvement of the existing conditions but an empowerment of the entire higher education sector.
So that inclusiveness refers to the institutionalization of accessibility. Here accessibility does not only refer to an entry into an institution. Availability of an institution within a meaningful distance is as important as the availability of the disciplines. Nowadays we can see most of the colleges are located in the urban areas and among them some areas are representing most of these colleges. In addition to that those colleges located in non-urban areas, in general, have less number of disciplines to offer. Another serious lacunae is regarding the quality of infrastructure and teaching. Even if geographical availability and quality ensured, making these facilities affordable to any eligible aspirant is equally important. So that, accessibility refers entry to higher education facilities whereas facilities incorporates three equally important aspects namely geographical availability, quality and affordability which we can represent in the following diagram.
Guaranteeing quality in these facilities promises qualitative syllabus and study materials, competitive faculty, healthy teacher-student ratio, necessary infrastructure and expansion of research activities. Affordability ensures participation of every willing and eligible student in the qualitative higher education facilities.
Providing geographical availability of institutes and disciplines represents the quantity aspects of accessibility. Rather they become the primary step towards accessible higher education facilities also. Geographical availability of institutes (colleges, universities, research centres etc) irrespective of social and economic characteristics of the regions reverse the impact of distance.2 But, only, a series of disciplines within institutes or regions can make geographic availability meaningful. It is equally important to ensure quality of these facilities because lack of quality leads to inadequate or irrelevant skill development in the students. Without affordability, it is not possible to increase access and promote inclusiveness (Thorat 2008). Financial constrains of individuals often become a considerable cause in non-participation in higher education (UGC 2003). By offering direct financial support (like scholarships and educational loans) we can neutralise this to an extent. On the other side, providing financial assistance to institutions will further reduce the cost of participating in institutions. As mentioned before accessibility will not be ensured by itself rather it needs an institutional framework in the form of policies, legislative laws, rules etc. In the absence of this framework, there can be many issues of clarity. For instance, geographical availability of disciplines may not ensure availability of conventional and new generational courses in different term schedules ie; short and long. There can be different approaches on quality aspects. Only through an enforcement of a given set of conditions i.e. an institutional framework, the three aspects of accessibility will contribute each other in a fruitful manner.
The element of time is another important aspect of the inclusiveness. The issues of accessibility may change from time to time so that the solutions also changes accordingly. The continuous intervention in the institutions should not be on the blind basis of existing policies or laws but on the basis of the nature of demand. To be more particular, institutional framework must rediscover itself continuously. If not, the development of the sector may not promote inclusiveness to its core.. The following diagramme illustrates the above explained concepts.
2. Statement of the research problem
Inclusive higher education commands its importance here. But in the state of Kerala requirements of higher education facilities were addressed majorly by opening more and more SFCs. During 1990s the Universities of the State started to experience pressures from the government, the sole provider of finances in the sector, to raise their own investment. This situation forced Universities to search for other financial resources to run their institutions either by multiplying funding channels or by adopting more stringent budget control; in other words they adopted a market-oriented approach in raising finances. As a result, the priorities changed and the Universities prime concerns became other than academic. This entrepreneurial role of Universities made the material base of SFCs in the state. SFCs strengthened the existing but weak belief that ‘education should serve economic purposes’. An entrepreneurial as well as competitive culture has been encouraged; hence marketisation replaced everything else as the priority in the higher education sector.3
3. Literature review
There are many studies on the higher education sector of Kerala which explains the importance of inclusive approach we need to adopt. Many studies estimates Gross Entrollment Ratio (GER) of Kerala4 position better than the national level, however it portrays a gloomy picture considering the universal school enrollment in the state. More alarming is the level of inequality that persists within those who get admission. Kumar observes that admission to medical courses in the State (as elsewhere) is largely restricted to the elite group in terms of financial as well as social backgrounds (Kumar 2008, Nithya 2013, John 2006, Altbach et.al 2005). Kumar and George found that enrolment rate of economically poor in higher education sector in Kerala is only 1.9% (Kumar and George 2009). Kodoth also made similar observations (Kodoth 2010). A study conducted by Salim revealed that the professional education in Kerala is heavily biased against the rural and backward and depressed communities (Salim 2008). Reduction in State expenditure made this situation much worse which is making it more costly for oppressed communities and status symbol for richer communities (Salim 2004). Cost recovery measures, on the grounds of lack of resources, by the universities are adding up the burden (Gasper and Sebastian 1999).5 Considering the social and economic diversity of the society as well as the social and equity aspects of higher education, arguments in favor of cost recovery should be discarded. Some studies on state expenditure on higher education revealed that it is dominated by revenue expenditure (more than 90%) throughout 90’s (Tilak 2001; George and Sunaina 2005; Praveen 2006). This inadequate capital expenditure affects better functioning of libraries and laboratories or maintenance of capital assets already created.
It is not only government’s reduced funding, but also the growing inequality in income that made higher education a luxury for some groups. One fourth of the households in Kerala have one non-resident Keralite in their family (Rajan & Zachariah 2007). Thus emerged NRI funded economy, along with the emergence of middle class encouraged commercialization of education. When higher education began to be considered as a status symbol this trend multiplied. Non-financial entry barriers like languages and parental education add to this exclusionary tendency. Increase in private cost of education especially in professional courses, is another factor which contribute to the marginalization of economically backward communities in the sector.What worsened the whole picture is the growing attraction towards self financing courses and colleges. This may create ‘uneconomic colleges” as happened in school level which may lead to their closure adding less space for economically weak (Kumar & George 2009).
Several studies regarding the higher education sector of Kerala concluded that the facilities in the State are either insufficient (George and Kumar 1999, George and Sunaina 2005; Nair and Nair 2008) or irrelevant (Nair and Nair 2008) or creating a lot of wastage of resources i.e. not producing the expected productive labour (Sivasankaran & Babu 2008; Vil’nilam 2007). It was even argued that the higher educational sector is over regulated due to the management by multiple agencies (Nair and Nair 2008). This necessitates search for alternative possibilities in the sector. Self financing colleges, which are least regulated but job-oriented, up to date and demand-responding, emerged as the best and preferred possibility. There are studies regarding the role, relevance and extend of self financing colleges in Kerala. Growth of self financing colleges shows the privatization and commercialization tendency in the higher education sector of the State (Nair and Nair 2008, Gasper and Sebastian 1999).
There are so many studies on SFCs6 in general. These studies vary from financial mechanisms adopted by SFCs (Chandrasekharan 2011, Ananthakrishnan 2010; Ganeshan 2005, Menon et al 2005, Kaul 2000, Pinto 1994, Kothari 1986, Shatrugna 1983 & 1992, Singh 1972) to affordability (Kumar 2004, Salim 2004) to quality (Chattopadhyay & Pathak 2009, Vrijendra 2000) to reasons for their growth (Sebastian 2010, Patel 2009, Agarwal 2007, Mahal & Mohanan 2006, George & Sunanina 2005, Deshpande 2000, Tilak 1999).
There are studies about the expenditure incurred in educating a student in higher levels in the State (Kumar 2008; Ramachandran 2003; Gasper and Sebastian 1999). Educational expenses include expenses incurred by the public authorities (public cost) and expenses incurred by the student/family (private cost). Private cost can be again classified into academic (tuition fee, examination fee etc and expenditure on private coaching, stationary etc) and maintenance cost (expenditure on dress, transport etc). Even though fee is less, private cost of higher education, is very high in Kerala (Tilak 1994, George and Sunaina 2005; Salim 2004, 2008; Kumar 2008). In such a situation, relevance of government intervention is very sounding. Studies regarding the aspect of expansion and equity in higher education sector of Kerala (Altback & Mathews 2010; Nair & Nair 2008; Salim 2004, 2008; Kodoth 2010; Tilak 2001; Kumar & George 2009) supports this argument.
Compared to these, studies regarding inclusiveness of higher education are minimal. Studies which look into inclusiveness in Indian higher education section historically (Sreeramamurty et al. 2012) and which presents the strategies to achieve inclusive higher education (ADB 2012) are hardly sufficient to explain the whole concept of inclusiveness of higher education. The exponential growth of private self financing colleges in the State, both in professional and non-professional sector, commands more research in the area. The increasing enmity between State government and Managements of colleges in the matter of autonomy, inclusion and more particularly the financial mechanism should be noted here. The absence of a comprehensive policy regarding operations of self financing colleges makes things worse. What we can observe is non-transparent functioning of self financing colleges. At this juncture, the present paper may be able to contribute the filling of gap in the literature about Kerala’s higher education sector.
4. Objectives and research questions
In the light of above observations, the broad objectives of the present paper are to explore the relevance of SFCs in ensuring accessibility and inclusiveness in higher education facilities throughout the State. The research questions are
1. How do SFCs address the accessibility issues of higher education in Kerala?
This question has three following sub-questions.
i. Do SFCs ensure geographical availability of colleges and disciplines?
ii. Do SFCs ensure improvement of quality?
iii. Do SFCs ensure affordability of higher educational opportunities?
2. How the existing institutional framework addresses the geographical availability, quality and affordability with regard to SFCs?
Separate tools for different objectives are employed in the study. The study uses both secondary as well as primary sources which include desk review of existing literature (both academic and non academic.7. The study is exploratory in nature to map out the unique features related to SFCs.
A detailed survey in the jurisdictional areas of University of Kerala (as a representative sample) has been conducted. i.e. 16 tehsils in the southernmost part of Kerala are held. There are 254 colleges in total with 68 Arts & Science, 45 Engineering, 50 Medical, 51 Teacher Training and 40 other types of colleges. Out of it 179 are SFCs (table 1)
Information regarding financial aspects of SFCs are collected mainly from students/parents, teachers and non-teaching staff. We need to depend on these sources as the colleges deny giving such information; so that calculating accurate figures are nearly impossible. Field based information.8 is collected through open ended questionnaire which are separate for different target groups. The questionnaire is administered in a personal face to face manner rather than class room settings. But sufficient care has taken in order to cover as wide a cross section of students as possible across streams.
To deal with the matter of accessibility,.9 we employ separate tools for each of its constituents. To analyze geographical availability, t the availability of Engineering colleges (as a representative sample) in the selected tehsils is mapped out. Geographical availability of higher education refers to the availability of higher education institutes within a defined geographical entity irrespective of differences like rural or urban, coastal or hilly, developed or backward etc. The availability of different disciplines in the four selected tehsils are mapped out in order to study the disciplinary accessibility which refers to the availability of different disciplines or branches of knowledge within a defined geographical entity. Those disciplines which comes under Arts & Science category (within them only graduate courses as sample) are considered. To analyze this, the availability of three conventional courses namely, Economics, Chemistry and Commerce and three new generation courses.10 like Computer Science, Business Administration and Electronics in four representative tehsils in the region are considered.
To analyse the quality of SFCs both primary and secondary data are used. The roles of regulatory bodies are relevant as the performance of colleges. So to analyse the performance of regulatory agencies as well as the response of SFCs regarding quality requirements are to be carried out. Hence we interviewed several management representatives of SFCs along with teaching and non-teaching faculty and students to get a better picture.
In order to address the affordability in higher education, carried out a sample survey of Engineering college’ students who got admission through merit quota, since they are suppose to pay around eight times fee of merit quota in public colleges. Details of bank loan facilities available to these students are also analysed.
To identify the economic ability, students are divided into four slabs namely ‘below Rs 1 lakhs, between Rs 1 lakhs and Rs 4 lakhs, between Rs 4 lakhs and Rs 8 lakhs and above Rs 8 lakhs. Affordability of higher education refers to the affordability of higher education facilities to an eligible candidate irrespective of his economic background (Here the extend of the ?government expenditure on higher education does not matter as SFCs and students of SFCs hardly get financial assistance from the government).
6. Analysis and discussion
In the next section we are discussing the picture of self financing colleges after analyzing the data collected, both primary and secondary, on the basis of research questions.
6.1. Geographical availability of higher education
The public college system which we had before in Kerala showed a skewed picture about the availability of colleges. These colleges were concentrated in certain regions particularly urban areas. Public Colleges in therural areas, hilly region and northern side of the State were more or less ignored. When analysed it reveals that that the growth of SFCs ensured the geographical availability of higher education across the region. Only Thiruvananthapuram had Engineering colleges before 2000s and it is one of the first tehsil where a SFC was started. Even now other tehsils have no public Engineering colleges. But the arrival of SFCs ensured the availability of Engineering colleges there. The details are given table 2.
But, the colleges are unequally distributed. In 2012, there were 1065 colleges in Kerala. On an average there should be 76 colleges per district in Kerala. But out of the total 14 districts, only seven have more than 67 colleges. These seven districts namely Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Kollam, Kannur and Trissur contribute more than 68% of the total colleges.
Hence it is better to analyse tehsil wise distribution of colleges. There are totally 63 tehsils in Kerala. At an average there need to be 15 colleges in each tehsil but only 22 tehsils acquired this number and they contribute to 72% of the total figure. The tehsilwise distribution of colleges shows the skewed picture Only nine tehsils namely Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram, Kanayannoor, Kottyam, Trissur, Ottapalam, Aluva, Kollam and Kunnathunadu have almost all types of colleges above the State average. On the other side those tehsils possessed doubled share over the state average (Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram, Kanayannoor, Kottyam, Trissur and Taliparambu) together contribute around one third of the total number of colleges. If we add the population of the concerned age group.11to the analysis it will give a better idea about the real availability of colleges. Per capita availability of colleges shows the distribution of colleges by considering the number of concerned population ie., for an average 6927 people in the concerned age group is provided with a college. . These details show that the higher education facilities of Kerala are far from satisfactory.
6.2. Disciplinary availability of higher education
The analysis shows a rather not-so-clear picture about the disciplinary accessibility of higher education. It is shocking to know that the public colleges were not able to ensure even conventional disciplines in many tehsils. On the other side, SFCs preferred to offer new generation courses. The analysis shows that they do not ensure disciplinary accessibility everywhere. A casual observation tells us that SFCs introduced most of the new generation courses in the state (table 3).
When the under graduate courses offered by different Universities in the State analysed, it is observed that SFCs were able to ensure the provision of various new generation courses. Detailed analysis shows that at presentin the State there are 111 disciplines offered in the graduate level by all Universities and among them conventional courses are offered mainly by public colleges.
6.3. Quality of SFCs
Lack of availability of disciplines along with low quality performance of SFCs is worsening the accessibility condition. Ensuring qualitative higher education is essential to reduce social and regional disparities as well as to achieve balanced development. The competency of faculty is yet another prime consideration. A good percentage of teachers appointed in these colleges are not eligible for the job. The atmosphere of the campus is not something that supports enhancement of teaching competency. Several existing faculties complained that efforts taken by them are hardly considered for rewards. One pathetic situation observed in these colleges is the near absence of non-teaching staff like librarian, lab assistants etc. Other than the security officers, menial job workers, manager, cashier etc, most of theother jobs were performed by regular teachers itself. Citing financial and administrative reasons, new faculties are not appointed at the right time . This increases the job burden of teachers. The availability of infrastructure and other requirements are discussed before.
We can observe the multiple level regulatory structure in the higher education sector. There are 15 national regulatory bodies in addition to different State Councils of Higher Education under UGC to confirm quality assurance in different sectors. But in reality, there are three layers of regulation viz by the national regulatory body, the University and the State government. In the case of professional colleges, the Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee (AFRC) comes as the forth . Most of the management representatives commented that the approach of regulatory agencies are rather not supporting. According to them the partiality of AFRC is evident when fixing the fee level to different courses. The colleges were not consulted during fee fixation and and curriculum reforms. Teachers and non-teaching staff were of the opinion that regulation is not at all effective and the colleges are the new avenues of exploitation. Colleges follow fraudulent measures during the time of inspection by regulatory bodies to continue existence. The interviews with non-teaching staff, who knows better about the financial transactions within the college, revealed that most of the allegations made by teachers and students about the financial dealings are almost true.
6.4. Affordability of higher education
We interviewed merit quota students in Engineering colleges as they were suppose to pay around 8 times fees in public colleges in addition to caution deposit and other payments. Here even the educational eligibility is not sufficient to get admission. Out of the 43 students interviewed, 16 have annual income of less than one lakh. 7 are between one lakh to four lakh. 11 are between four lakh to eight lakh. Only 19 were able to pay this legally permitted fees in SFCs. Out of the remaining 24 students, 17 took educational loans and 7 adopted to other sources of money. Out of them two were denied the loan. 38 respondents admitted that charging fines and other compulsory payments like development fund etc are unnecessary. The remaining five admitted that it is not wrong to charge such payments if it is used for the development of the college. None of them paid capitation fee but 31 of them agreed that it is still prevalent in admission. 41 of them not even know the legal explanation of capitation fee. The sample survey reveals the elite character of the SFCs.
In order to meet those challenges to confront the changes in the political, economic and cultural fronts in the state, nation and around the world there was a pressing call for providing opportunities to the younger generation of the sSate to build up and upgrade their skills and abilities. As a response, since the 1990s, higher education in Kerala has gone through several changes among them most notable is the growth of SFCs. The result is massification of higher education in the State but massificaton need not delivered quality in higher education. Simultaneously it also led to the contested debate on the role and importance of different financing agencies in higher education (Varghese 2013). The study, so far, gave us rather a gloomy picture of SFCs. It was the financial paucity of State government that led to the movement of SFCs but we can assume that it was the dilapidated system of higher education ensured the public acceptance of SFCs. Now the government cannot replace SFCs but need to intervene in them in such a way to create stability in the sector, promote investment in the infrastructure, reduce inequalities in accessing admission and guarantee quality in delivery. What required is not the state takeover of, but proper regulation on SFCs. Considering the growth of the sector, the government has to change their role and policy in order to accommodate the capacity of private investment. In the contemporary scenario, the importance of SFCs in expanding the higher education cannot be invalidated by anybody. We can suggest only that approach which incorporates the confidence of SFCs can make a big leap forward in the higher education sector.
- We can define a self financing college (SFC) as that regular and affiliated one which does not receive aid from any government agencies for its capital and revenue expenditure. But it does not mean that a SFC cannot receive any financial support from government like subsidies, project funds etc. SFCs can start by both government and private agencies. Other than the financial aspects, the SFCs enjoy complete freedom in the appointment of teachers and other non-teaching staff.
- The literature proves that distance to institutions often become a significant factor in the decisions regarding participating in higher education (Sa, Florax & Rietveld 2004, Dubey 2008).
- Marketization of higher education refers to the application of market principles, practices and strategies in dealing with the affairs of higher education (Mok & Lo 2002).
- Dubey estimates that GER in Kerala was 16.70% in 1993-94; 20.80% in 1999-00 and 24.96% in 2004-05 (Dubey 2008). Tilak estimates it was only 3.7% in 1998 and 7.6% in 2002-03 (Tilak 2001), CABE Committee estimates 9.92% in 2002-03 (CABE 2005), Thorat approximates 18.46% in 2004-05 (Thorat 2008) and Kodoth gives 8.32% in 2004-05, 11.57% in 2005-06, 11.82% in 2006-07 (Kodoth 2010).
- The fee and other internal sources are generating good share of revenue for some universities of the state; which is even higher than the recommendations of Punnayya Committee (Tilak 2001).Committee on UGC Funding of Institutions of Higher Education or Justice Dr. K. Punnayya Committee (1993) recommended generation of resources through fees and other internal sources to the extent of about 20% of the entire revenue of the university.
- SFCs are also known as unaided private colleges, capitation fee colleges, management colleges, payment colleges, ‘student-financed institutions’ (Sebastian 2010), ‘no-grant colleges’ (Deshpande 1987), ‘bastard colleges’ (Singh 1983) etc.
- Academic literature includes journal articles, edited or other books, reports, seminar papers etc. so that they can be either published or unpublished. Non-academic literature includes majorly articles in news papers and popular magazines.
- We are doing our survey in four tehsils namely Thiruvananthapuram (Thiruvananthapuram district), Kottarakara (Kollam district), Cherthala (Alappuzha district) and Adur (Pathanamthittah district). Thiruvananthapuram is taken because it is the capital territory plus a famous higher educational hub. It is one of the most developed regions in the state. Kottarakara is rural cum agrarian. Cherthala is a coastal area. Adur is the only tehsil available in the Pathanathittah district under the jurisdictional area of University of Kerala.
- Usually the accessibility of higher education is responded by the GER which is inadequate to explain the complete picture.
- New generation courses are vocational and applied in nature which was traditionally not offered by universities.
- Here we are trying to make a crude analysis in order to find out the total population in the 17-24 age cohort (we are not able to collect the exact details from the Census reports so far). So that we will develop this figure from 2001 census reports. According to 2001 Census figures the 7-14 age group has 19.4% share in total population. From this we can derive that in 2011, the population in 17-24 age groups will be slightly lesser that 19.4%. For the sake of argument consider it is 19.4% now. According to this, out of the total population of 3, 33, 87, 677 people, the required age group has 64, 77, 209 people. in addition to this, we can calculate the age cohort for each of the district and tehsil.
Table 1: Number of colleges under University of Kerala (in numbers)*
|Arts, science & commerce colleges||Engg, Technical & arch colleges||Medical(allo/ayur/homeo/ unani/ nursing/pharmacy) colleges||Teacher training colleges||Law, MBA, MCA, IT etc colleges||Total|
|1995||58 (10)||3 (1)||7 (0)||12 (5)||6 (2)||86 (18)|
|2000||59 (11)||5 (1)||7 (0)||13 (6)||7 (2)||91 (20)|
|2002||59 (11)||18 (14)||15 (7)||14 (7)||16 (11)||122 (50)|
|2004||62 (13)||23 (19)||26 (18)||15 (8)||20 (15)||146 (73)|
|2006||63 (13)||23 (19)||41 (32)||42 (35)||21 (16)||190 (115)|
|2008||65 (15)||24 (20)||47 (38)||49 (42)||25 (20)||210 (135)|
|2010||66 (15)||36 (32)||51 (42)||50 (43)||30 (25)||233 (157)|
|2012||68 (20)||45 (38)||50 (43)||51 (44)||40 (34)||254 (179)|
Source: calculated figures. *in bracket number of SFCs
Table 2: Number of colleges across the region in different years (in numbers)
|Government colleges||Aided colleges||SFCs|
Source: calculated figures
Table 3: distribution of disciplines in colleges in different tehsils (in numbers)
Source: calculated figures.
Journal articles and books:
Agarwal, Pawan, (2007). Private Higher Education in India: Status and Prospectus. The Observatory, London.
Altbach, Philip G & Mathews, Eldho, (2010). Dilemmas of Equality in Education. the Hindu Daily, September 1.
Ananthakrishnan, N. (2010). Medical Education in India: Is It Still Possible to Reverse the Downhill Trend?. The National Medical Journal of India, Vol.23, No. 3.
Bergheim, Stefan, (2005). Global Growth Centres 2020. Current Issues, Deutsche Bank Research, March 23.
Chandrasekharan, Sndhya, (2011). Higher Education: Can We Steer Change with Pragmatism?. Economic and Political Weekly, Vol XLVI, No 1.
Chattopadhyay, Saumen & Pathak, Binay Kumar, (2009). An Analysis of Changing Pattern of Financing of Higher Education in India: Implications for Public Policy. UGC MRP F 5-19/2005
D’Souza, Errol, (2004). Contractual Arrangements in Academia: Implications for Performance. Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 39, No. 21
Deshpande, J V. (1987). Business and Politics of Universities. Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 22, No. 3.
Deshpande, J V. (2000). Education as Business. Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 35, No. 28/29
Doherty-Delorme, D. and Shaker, E. (2001). Missing Pieces II, An Alternative Guide To Canadian Post-Secondary Education. 2000/2001 Provincial Rankings: Where Do the Provinces Stand on Education? January, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Dubey, Amaresh, (2008). Determinants of Post-Higher Secondary Enrolment in India. University Grants Commission, New Delhi.
Ganeshan, V. (2005). Professiona
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