(This post is from Sri Kisrhna Report – Chapter 3 – Part A)
At the time of independence and subsequently when the state was formed coastal Andhra was educationally ahead of Telangana since it had benefitted from the spread of education by Christian missionaries during colonial rule. Also, British rule resulted in wider use of English in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema as compared to Telangana where Urdu was the official language under the Nizams. Coastal Andhra region also benefitted from standardization of Telugu language which was the medium of instruction in schools and access to schooling was made available to all sections of society, including the lower castes. Hence, while the Andhra region got an undeniable advantage, the Telangana region had to overcome multiple handicaps – poor spread of schooling and higher education as well as medium of instruction being solely Urdu at the time of its merger with the Indian union. Telangana students (and employees) were thus doubly disadvantaged by not only having limited access to education but also little familiarity with English. Indeed, at the time of the merger, the region was short of qualified teachers and this gap was filled by bringing in teachers from coastal Andhra. This later became an issue of discord during the 1969 agitation. However, as mentioned above, Telangana has reduced the gap in literacy over the last few decades and this becomes more visible if we look at literacy rates among the youth population.
Besides historical factors, there are other socio-economic reasons why overall literacy tends to be lower in certain parts of the state. It is a known fact that literacy levels are lower among the rural, poor and socially deprived sections (SC, ST, BC, Muslim minorities and Women).
The illiteracy rates are highest among the ST female adults in rural areas of Andhra Pradesh (96.5% in 1991 which declined to 86.5% by 2001) depicting the impact of multiple deprivations. Table 3.2 gives the region-wise literacy rates of different social groups.
As is clear, literacy rates are particularly low for the ST population in all the regions of the state and since Telangana has the highest concentration of tribals among the three regions, this provides one explanation for the overall low literacy in the Telangana region.
However, Chapter 7 which provides a detailed analysis of the literacy rates and years of education for the different social groups, shows that in 2007, literacy rates for the youth population aged 8-24 for SCs and Muslims in Telangana are ahead of or at par with those in the other two regions. Youth literacy rates for STs in Telangana though grew at an impressive rate of 278% between 1983-2007, are still behind those in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema.
Spread of Higher Education in different regions before Independence
Coastal Andhra had a head start in higher education since a number of educational institutions at degree and post-graduate level were already present in the region prior to independence. These include:
The college at Machilipatnam established by Church Missionary Society in 1864
Junior College at Rajahmundhry that was made a degree college in 1877
Hindu College (presently known as the A.V.N. College) at Visakhapatnam in 1878
Andhra Christian College, Guntur in 1885
PR College of Kakinada before 1910
Hindu College, Guntur in 1930
SRR & CVR College at Vijayawada
There are more colleges and students in degree colleges in coastal Andhra than in Telangana even though the two regions have comparable number of youth population. This is mainly due to the lesser number of aided colleges in Telangana since the number of government colleges is more in Telangana. This is due to historical reasons such as existence of large number of aided colleges in the coastal region even at the time of formation of the state etc. as explained in Appendix 3.16. District data (Appendix 3.13) shows that Karimnagar in Telangana has the largest number of students in government degree colleges in the state, followed by Anantapur and Chittoor in Rayalaseema and Mahbubnagar in Telangana.
As Telangana was a late comer to higher education and due to policy change relating to funding of aided colleges, it has fewer aided colleges.
(2) The student lecturer ratios are higher in Telangana and Rayalaseema as compared to coastal Andhra particularly in government colleges showing less number of lecturers are appointed per 100 students. The ratio is extremely high in case of Adilabad (82) and Karimnagar (61) in Telangana region. Filling of teacher vacancies is of the utmost importance to make teaching effective and bring about better quality education. Other districts with somewhat high ratios (exceeding 50) are Visakhapatnam in coastal Andhra and Nizamabad in Telangana.
TRS Kicked by SKREPORT -
In case of new regional universities also the grants are alleged to be discriminatory.
As per TRS document block grants released between 2006- 2009 to Telangana University in Nizamabad and Mahatma Gandhi University in Nalgonda respectively were 29.5 crores and 30.5 crores while that released to Yogi Vemana University in Kadapa for the same period was 300 crores. Based on the information received from the State Government and field visit to Yogi Vemanna University, it is concluded that though Yogi Vemana University has been given more grants than the other two universities cited, the figure of 300 crores mentioned is substantially exaggerated.
After a thorough analysis of the issues raised by Telangana groups before the Committee relating to grants to and location of educational institutions (Para 3.7), we reached the conclusion that though some of these are valid, not all are of the claimed magnitude.
Although some variation in grants and location of major institutions is often a function of political compulsions and may be difficult to avoid in a democratic system based on support of one‟s own constituency, efforts should be made to ensure that government expenditure is regionally equitable. In recent years, the state has attempted to bring about uniformity by locating new regional universities equitably in all the three regions. However, there is some disparity in medical colleges. At present, there are four medical colleges for the four districts of Rayalseema, five for the nine districts of coastal Andhra and four (of which two are in Hyderabad) for the ten districts of Telangana.
The Committee feels that establishing a medical college in North Telangana would redress an important imbalance.
Most young people in AP have a preference for technical and professional education due to better employment opportunities available in these sectors of a globalizing economy.
The state government‟s policies of providing scholarships/fee reimbursements and hostel facilities to students from socially and economically backward groups/communities have resulted in the positive development of a large number of students from such groups entering professional education.
This has also stimulated and sustained the growth of private institutions in these fields. While government jobs are still sought after, many more opportunities are now available in the private sector.
Despite this, jobs, as elsewhere, have not kept up with the supply of graduates and at present there appears to be an excess of technically and professionally educated youth in the state. There is also possibly a mismatch between the skills of many graduates with those required by employers. The poor quality of many such private colleges (engineering in particular) and lack of soft skills contributes to the problem whereby students find only low paying or no jobs after graduation. The frustration of the youth when their expectations are not met is exploited by politicians who claim that their inability to get a job commensurate with their degree is due to discrimination against Telangana people thus causing interregional and inter-community disaffection.
Field visits brought out that many students with higher education qualifications in Telangana are first generation college entrants (from rural families and whose parents are illiterate) and therefore have very high expectations of finding well paying jobs, in particular, in the government/public sector. It seems that it is the inability of such graduates to fulfill their aspirations that is responsible for their disappointment, disillusionment and frustration. Such students are likely to turn to those who promise them a better future.
Large scale involvement of students including those from Dalits and Backward Castes in the current movement for Telangana seems to testify to this. A large proportion of student leaders of the movement located in Osmania and Kakatiya Universities is known to be from Dalit/BC background.
According to many sources, purported student suicides during the course of the agitation are also largely by Dalit and Backward Caste students.
While lack of suitable employment is rarely due to discrimination and more due to lack of adequate training, the perception of neglect or discrimination needs to be addressed in order to bring students back into the mainstream. Improving the quality of education and solving the problem of unemployment among educated youth will have a positive impact on their attitude towards agitations.