Education gets roadmap

Patna, Jan. 10: The government is set to roll out a roadmap for education primarily aimed at academic and infrastructure growth of universities.

The roadmap plans to set a target for development of higher education in the state, which includes appointment of teachers in universities, infrastructure augmentation in colleges, inviting private universities to set up campuses and above all, systematic financial management and an audit and accounts system for constituent colleges.

"Under the 'Higher Education Roadmap', stress will be laid on academic and infrastructure growth of universities," principal secretary, education, Amarjeet Sinha, said.

In the next Assembly session, the government will table a bill that aims at starting the process of appointments of teachers in universities.

The bill's thrust will be on appointments of teachers through state wings ' the Bihar State Public Service Commission (BPSC), along with making National Teachers' Eligibility qualification mandatory for appointments of teachers in universities.

According to education department sources, if the bill is passed, it will pave the way for appointments of teachers in universities after nearly 10 years.

The last appointments were made in 2003. Since then, the university is running with just half the sanctioned strength of teachers. For instance, of the 950 sanctioned teachers' posts at Patna University, the institution is running with just around 400.

The roadmap is being looked at with scepticism in academic circles as several such proposals have been mooted in the past only to fizzle out.

"What stops the state government from making Patna College, which is celebrating 150 years, a centre of excellence," said a university professor, who did not wish to be named. He said the government has so far shown little inclination to wipe out the rot, primarily because of its ongoing battle with Raj Bhavan regarding education issues, including appointment of vice-chancellors.

The education department last year accorded centre of excellence tag to 19 colleges after assessing them. But academically, the tag has meant little.

Under the roadmap, the government will invite premier institutions such as XLRI, Jamshedpur, XIM-Bhubaneswar, ISM, Dhanbad, and others to set up campuses in Bihar. For this, the government is ready to offer infrastructure support.

"There are many colleges in Bihar which have huge campuses such as Patna College, Patna Science College and many others in the districts as well. If any premier institution wants to set up campuses, a portion of these colleges will be provided," said Sanjeevan Sinha, managing director, Bihar State Educational Infrastructure Development Corporation.

Also, in a departure from past policy, the government appears to be ready to give its nod to private universities from outside to set up campuses in Bihar. Earlier, chief minister Nitish Kumar had categorically stated that no private universities would be allowed to set up campuses in the state. According to education department sources, if the government does finally give its approval, chains of private universities will come forward to set up campuses.

The roadmap lays down a proposal for community colleges. The government has selected 15 institutions, including Patna Women's College, which will be developed as community colleges, where, apart from traditional and vocational courses, programmes with jobs in mind will be offered.

N.K. Choudhary, economist and Patna University teacher, said the gross enrolment of higher education in Bihar is only 7 per cent while the national average is 12 per cent. Steps should therefore be taken for more enrolment of students in higher education by setting up more universities. "The entire process will depend upon how serious the government is about implementing it," Choudhary said.

Patna University Retired Teachers' Association president B.V. Sinha, while welcoming the roadmap, expressed doubts over the wisdom of inviting private universities.


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