The opening up of the economy and the subsequent IT boom that resulted had opened a whole new world for aspirants dreaming of a better job and living conditions. But the number of engineering colleges in Kerala was severely restricted until the late nineties. This resulted in a huge outflow of students to neighboring states in their quest of becoming engineering graduates.
A study conducted by Sunil Mani and Arun M at the Centre of Development Studies, Trivandrum, brings into light many unsettling facts about the whole issue. The number of engineering colleges rose from just over twenty in the beginning of 2000 to 142 at present. While the IT boom is cited as the major reason for the sudden infiltration of the private management into the engineering sector, it is interesting to note that the courses that came into demand weren't limited to just Computer Science or Information Technology; in fact the demand for IT lags way behind some of the preferred streams, like Mechanical, although job preference is for IT. The need was to be an engineering graduate; the stream was of noconcern.
The number of graduates who emerge from these colleges have been on a falling trend for quite some time now. The newest ratio shows that two students fail to complete their course in the prescribed time for every one student who does. And among one-third of the graduates that emerge from the 40,000 odd seats in Kerala, the number of students who are ready to take up a professional job is even less, as the quality of these graduates stands way below the required level, due to the faulty faculty present in many of these colleges.
The dilution of the able minded students in the engineering stream has affected government colleges too, but to a lesser extent. College of Engineering, Trivandrum maintained a pass rate in the high 80s consistently till the middle of previous decade, when the rate began to fall slightly and stands in the 70s range as of now. The Government College at Barton Hill and the Kollam TKM College too have sustained a favorable pass rate of around the 60% mark, even though there had been a decrease in ten percent over the previous decade.
Among the self-financing colleges affiliated to the University of
Kerala, colleges like LBS College for Women, Marian College of
Engineering and Technology, Mar Basellius College of Engineering and
Technology, Sree Buddha College of Engineering and Technology and
Mohandas College of Engineering and Technology average around 40% with
the pass rate of students. These colleges which were opened during the
last decade, held a high pass rate in their initial year, which then
slipped down slowly and persistently. None of these colleges show signs
of an upward trend happening with their pass rates any time soon.
While the few colleges fore mentioned hold a pretty much unimpressive
report, many other college present a perfect picture of inept
inefficiency. Colleges like Shahul Hameed Memorial College of
Engineering, Kollam, Travancore Engineering College, Oyoor, PRS College
of Engineering and P A Azeez College of Engineering, all posses a pass
rate of below 20%.
Four trades – Computer Science, Mechanical, Electrical and Electronics
and Electronics and Communication constitute nearly 75% of the demand
from the nineteen courses that are available. The poor quality faculty
and unskilled professionals that come out every year has degraded the
value of higher education in Kerala so badly that the increase in the
number of graduates has only resulted in a paradox with an increased
rate of unemployment, as companies have started to look beyond the
degree certificate for hiring their candidates.
The state of engineering colleges and professional education in general
has been on a dangerously downward trend for the last decade. The
intervention of the High Court into the matter has given a ray of hope
in saving the ridicule that the state's technical educational department
has become. Otherwise the cent percent literate state might also bear
the tag of devaluing education because of its failure to develop able
and responsible citizens as required by the changing times.
Image Courtesy: rotherham.ac.uk, ayushveda.com