Srinagar: Despite getting crores of rupees in grants from different Government of India agencies, and minting lakhs in fees from students, Kashmir University’s Directorate of Lifelong Learning (DLL) has failed to set up the laboratory necessary for students of Bachelor’s in Automotive Technology, a degree programme started with much fanfare more than a year ago.
The 3-year undergraduate programme, first of its kind in Kashmir, was introduced by the KU administration at the DLL last year. It was meant to produce trained, industry-ready youth for the motor vehicles sector.
Students of the first batch of this course told Kashmir Reader that there is no lab for their practical training, no permanent staff, and the two contractual teachers there are, are “incapable” of teaching.
Instead of recruiting staff, the DLL “outsources” the practical work to local automobile mechanics, hired at Rs 1,000 per practical, a student said.
The students further alleged that the vehicles provided to them by the directorate for practical work were old and outdated. “We have to have the knowhow of new models relevant to today’s market. What will we learn from obsolete Ambassador cars?” a student said.
These students of “automotive technology” do not even get from their institution a tool as basic as a jack.
Such miserable conditions prevail when the department (DLL) receives more than Rs 5 crore in grants from various central agencies, including the University Grants Commission (UGC).
A billboard at the DLL reads that the directorate received at least Rs 4 crore from the UGC for establishing vocational Bachelor’s degrees under DDU KAUSHAL Kendra, Rs 90 lakh from the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) for a six-month certificate courses in paper machie, and Rs 12 lakh from the Commonwealth Multimedia Educational Centre for Asia (CEMCA), New Delhi, for launching skill courses in various trades.
This is apart from the Rs 10,000 the directorate charges each of the 30 students in the first batch of the B Voc in Automotive Technology as annual fee.
And yet the laboratory that is a basic necessity for the course has not been established. Students told Kashmir Reader that sixty percent of the course comprises practical work.
“We have better infrastructure at polytechnic colleges that offer diploma courses,” said one of the students.
The Director of DLL, Dr Ghulam Hassan Mir, told Kashmir Reader that construction of the laboratory had been affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He assured that the facility would be put in place “as soon as possible”.
On the students’ complaints about lack of good and permanent staff, Mir said that funds were limited for the course. The funds come from the Government of India, he said.