Centres of excellence needed

A nuclear science centre at the College of Engineering, Thrissur, a tool and die-making centre and a mechatronics centre at the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram, and a medicinal plantation and knowledge centre at Punalur, are to find prime place in the Emerging Kerala agenda.

Knowledge and education sectors are among the few that are to be highlighted at the meet. An advanced sports science centre too is proposed in the sector. The SCMS group has now come forward to set up a Rs 150-crore academic complex at Smart City.

Experts say that the quality of education in the state has substantially been watered down over the last two decades. Now, no college from the state figures in the list of top 20 colleges in the country, in any particular discipline.

The present university system takes care of the interests of the staff while students’ interests come secondary. No new institution of quality has come up in the science sector and the status of engineering colleges is poor.

The Cochin University of Science and Technology has failed to meet the objectives for which it was set up. Institutions of repute are only a handful like the NIT and the IIM-Kozhikode and IIST and IISER.

“In the past 15 years, our focus has been on engineering and medicine while there’s been a perceptible shift in the last four to five years in favour of basic science courses.

We don’t have good colleges for basic arts and science courses in Kerala and hence gifted students
go to Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore and Coimbatore.

To arrest this trend, the standard of existing colleges has to be raised. Grant autonomy and elevate good colleges to centres of excellence,” said G. Vijayaraghan, Planning Board member and technocrat.

The quality of labs and the faculty also has to go up while the skills of students seeking employment have to be enhanced.

A plan has been mooted to conduct dual degree course for students in job-oriented streams like retail, healthcare, hospitality and IT, along with the normal courses. To set up colleges for this purpose, investment has to be invited.

Institutions for applied science research and nano-technology are the need of the hour and the services of people like Ajayan Pulicken, a US-based professor of nanotechnology, need to be sought for this.

A proposal for a technology university has also been put up. An ideal approach would have been to conduct an education summit prior to the Emerging Kerala conclave where experts could have debated and suggested projects and these could have been tabled at the business summit .

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