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Discussions are taking place in all the media about making Kerala a global education hub. The Chief Minister also has made suggestions to this effect. A global education hub denotes a geographical area, where people connected to education can meet. Those, who are in the business of providing education, facilitating education and aspiring education, are always looking for very conducive environment to come together and do their business. The word “business” is no longer a taboo for education.

 What makes such a conducive environment? What are the essentials of such a hub? First of all, there should be physical and legal infrastructure. Physical infrastructure includes buildings, roads, transport system, electricity and water supply, health supports and a robust IT support.   These can be either state-provided or private-funded. However, the legal environment has to be provided by the State itself. State should have a well designed policy to permit the education providers to do their business of catering to the needs of education seekers. Here the will of the politicians is important and is a pre-requisite.

Presently, the situation in Kerala there are many players in the education field and nobody is able to play. There are Government institutions, aided institutions, religious management institutions and self-financing institutions. All these institutions are competing each other to attract students by indulging in various practices.    Parents of aspiring students are not at all charmed and they always look towards other countries and, if not, to other states. The attraction towards “things- foreign’ has not yet weaned out. People still feel foreign education is superior to education imparted in our own schools and colleges. Those who can’t afford foreign, try to be satisfied with so-called ‘”deemed universities” in our neighboring states.  As a result, hard-earned Indian money is converted to foreign currency to be spent in countries like China, Russia, Germany, Australia and other countries, while the seats and facilities in our own state are wasted and the institutions struggle to survive.

One can understand people migrating to countries looking for livelihood and for higher education for which no facilities are available in own country. But for undergraduate studies why one should go to other countries and states – like ordering food from restaurants when home-cooked food is wasted!

Has any of the government agencies or social organizations tried to find out the real reasons behind this and collected any statistical data on the outflow of funds to other countries and state? Nobody has ever bothered to do this. No investigative journalists or TV channels will do this job since they are only concerned with the advertisement contracts they get from these outside agencies. Even the educational institutions are not viewing it seriously since they have no time apart from fighting among themselves. The same people, who despise their State, make a hue and cry when their life is in danger on account of various calamities and epidemics that affect their country of study.  At that time they want somehow to reach back their own country which till yesterday was good for nothing. They are not blamed for returning, but one has to question their hollow arguments against Kerala not having basic amenities to live a peaceful life.

There are classic examples of foreign nationals who happened to be in Kerala during the Covid-19 lockdown days praising the State for its excellent and humanistic approach of handling the epidemic and, if possible, never to leave Kerala and go back to their native places, in UK, USA and other so called   developed countries.  Taking cue from these incidents, our people should change their attitudes and misgivings. Find solace in mother’s lap always – not in times of grief alone but in times of joy also.

Governments cannot make everything happen. Governments can only create policies to regulate and control according to the needs of time and circumstances. It is for the public, the business community, to utilize the opportunity and come forward with financial and intellectual capital required to make things happen.  We have the intellectual capital to compete with any western or eastern intellectual standards. This has been proven globally long back. But we should realize ourselves what we have and how we should utilize it – not for individual benefit alone but for the collective benefit of our State and Nation as a whole.

While scope for big industrial units is limited in our State due to non-availability of land, we have a very fertile atmosphere for educational activities to prosper. What is required more than attracting people from outside, we have to retain our own people going out for education. Streamlining and modernizing working of our universities, reducing the influence of politics over the universities. The provide quality learning environment and world-class teaching. In effect they should provide value for money. The Pandemic has taught us a good lesson to be patient, to be health-conscious and to be technically competitive. If these lessons can be turned as life-styles we can achieve what we aspire.

So let us all work together. We are all stakeholders in this game. There are no losers here. We can definitely win with our collective wisdom and sincerity. By making Kerala a Global Hub for Education, we are creating a legacy for our children to be proud of.

  (The above material published on behalf of Thejus Engineering College, Vellarakkad, Thrissur, Kerala is the personal opinion of Mr. K. Kunhikrishnan, Director of Thejus Group of Institutions, Thrissur. There is no intention to malign any individual, organization or any group as such. The intentions are clear and sincere towards making our State a place looked upon with awe and admiration)