Why 100 Percent Literacy is an Election Issue For Kerala’s Youth

Why youth in Kerala want 100 percent literacy to be discussed as an issue in Kerala elections. 

Updated
Politics
3 min read
Kerala has the highest rate of literacy and the highest rate of unemployment (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>/Parul Agrawal)

If there is one thing women in Kerala don’t like to talk about but men love to discuss, its politics.

One of the most prominent issues in the Kerala elections after corruption and liquor policy is unemployment or under employment of the educated youth. In a state with the highest rate of literacy, the rate of unemployment is also the highest in the country.

The biggest issue youngsters are facing in Kerala is a concept called under employment. Keralites have extremely good rates of literacy but they are not getting the right jobs. There are many cases where PhD holders are working as receptionists for companies. 
Prajeesh, Communication Trainer & Activist
<b>The Quint</b> spoke to young voters in Kerala to know what it is biggest issue for them in the Kerala elections (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>/Parul Agrawal)
The Quint spoke to young voters in Kerala to know what it is biggest issue for them in the Kerala elections (Photo: The Quint/Parul Agrawal)

Mission 100 Percent Literacy

Hundred percent literacy does not ensure jobs since the quality of education is also a problem. With higher marks and brilliant results, Kerala universities, schools and colleges seem to be producing literates with a limited skill set.

Quality of education is a big problem for us. We have seen students passing with high marks and degrees but their understanding is limited. There have been studies that show students in Kerala have the least mathematical skills. Politicians are happy with 100 percent literacy but that makes things worse.
Ajith, Student, Kerala University 
Experts believe that the education system and syllabus in Kerala, has not kept pace with time. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>/Parul Agrawal)
Experts believe that the education system and syllabus in Kerala, has not kept pace with time. (Photo: The Quint/Parul Agrawal)

Quality of Education

Historically, the kingdom of Travancore had a robust education system. With the arrival of Christian missionaries who insisted on building a school next to every church, the education system became even better.

It was easy for the successive Communist governments in Kerala to engrain education across sections in society. But things seem to have halted since then.

Pick up any school or university syllabus in Kerala, you will find it at least twenty years behind time. Successive governments have been happy and content with literacy rates, failing to understand that they need to upgrade the content of education with time.
MV Shiju, Native of Kozhikode and Professor, Teri University Delhi
A UDF election poster calling on youth to vote for Congress (Photo: KPCC  <a href="https://www.facebook.com/congress.kpcc/?fref=ts">Facebook Page</a>)
A UDF election poster calling on youth to vote for Congress (Photo: KPCC Facebook Page)

Limited work opportunities across the state and low wages and salaries make things worse.

I am working as a male nurse in a hospital. My working hours can be anything between 10 to 14 but I am paid Rs 12,000 per month. It’s the case with engineers and a lot of other professions as well. This is the prime reason Keralites prefer to work in the Gulf and Middle East. 
Rejji Kutty, Thiruvananthapuram 

Many in Kerala believe that the ‘educated’ Keralites look to greener pastures – the Indian metros, the gulf countries, the European countries and the West – to escape the political mess and corruption in the state. They come back only to retire, by which time any desire to reform the system is long dead.

The Money-Order Economy

Thirty-one-year-old Sajith, a Keralite by birth and a Bangalorean by choice, spends almost every second weekend at his home city Thiruvananthapuram. While he accepts that the Gulf and the Middle East crisis is impacting Kerala’s remittance economy, he banks upon the Mallu-spirit to travel to the furthest corners of the world and chase opportunities.

Malayalis traditionally have always travelled for work. You find so many Malayalis in the the Gulf because it was booming and offered better salaries. Malayalis have gone to Burma, they went to Malaysia. In Mumbai and Assam you find a large Malayali community. If the Gulf is sinking Malayalis will find another place for the money-order economy.
Sajith

Kerala seems to be a state sinking under the weight of its brilliant social statistics.

With the oil price crash and Middle East crisis resulting in massive job cuts, the next government has a huge task at hand – to create jobs in the state.

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