The year 1904 marks the beginning of my journey as St Joseph’s Primary School. I was gradually upgraded to Degree College in 1943. But before I could blossom, I withered as I fell prey to partition of the State and was closed for seven years. I was reopened in 1954, then taken over by the State Government in 1963, and then shifted to the present campus in 1967. It is from here that I started my journey afresh. It has been the “best of times; it has been the worst of times”. But I never looked back and continued to do my work of imparting education, which encompasses academics, examinations, and co-curricular activities.
Over the years I have grown into a multidisciplinary institution of higher learning. I offer postgraduate courses in Mathematics, Psychology and Computer Sciences (MCA), besides a range of undergraduate courses in Sciences, Commerce, BBA, Arts, Computer Science (BCA), Media Studies (both vocational and degree courses), IT, Biotechnology, and a host of vocational courses. In my campus has developed a beautiful landscape, a vast play field, a large built-up area for classrooms, laboratories, and hostels, and a rich library. However, a host of problems, predominantly the shortage of permanent teaching staff, particularly in the postgraduate departments, have been obstructing my performance and affecting the career of my students.
In accord with UGC norms I should have 13 permanent teachers in the PG Department of Mathematics, but there is only one. I should have nine permanent teachers in the Psychology department, but only two are there. And instead of 10 teachers required for the MCA department, only 4 are available. Even the permanent teaching and non-teaching staff are often transferred to newly established colleges.
I am the first college of the state where studies in Mass Communication and Video Production (MCVP) were started, in 2002, and a three-year degree course in Mass Communication and Multimedia Production (MCMP) started in 2004. I feel proud of the good number of students who studies these courses and went on to secure rewarding jobs at national and international levels. However, I am still waiting for the release of Rs 5.87 crore grant sanctioned by the Higher Education department in March 2015. In the absence of these funds, I haven’t been able to construct the much-needed separate media block.
The piece of land measuring 13 kanals and 13 Marlas, which I acquired in 1968 but which has still not been transferred to due to negligence of those at the helm of affairs, splits my campus into two entities, thus hampering my plans to put in place a cohesive infrastructure that is needed to become an apex institution of learning.
The JK Armed Police have installed latrines and created temporary parking slots in the vicinity of two hostel blocks inside my campus. Round the clock the noise of their vehicles and the movement of their men disturb the hostellers and affect their studies.
The employees of the Sports department are excessively misusing my Indoor Sports Complex and playfield, that too without seeking permission. This has been vitiating my academic ambiance and harming my respectability.
In spite of these impediments, I continue to progress in my academic pursuits. This has been recognised by national-level academic auditing organisations. While the NAAC Bangalore has accredited me with Grade “A”, the UGC has conferred me with the status of “College with Potential for Excellence”. I am also being granted “Autonomous Status” by the University Grants Commission very soon.
I feel it obligatory to place on record the importance of academic leaders and inspiring approach of authorities as necessary for successful implementation of the National Education Policy 2020. The policy envisions a complete overhaul and re-energising of the higher education system to deliver high-quality education, with equity and inclusion. The policy’s vision includes moving towards a higher educational system consisting of large multidisciplinary universities and colleges, faculty and institutional autonomy, reaffirming the integrity of faculty and institutional leadership positions through merit-based appointments and career progress based on teaching, research, and service. The main thrust of this policy is to end the fragmentation of higher education by transforming these institutions into large multidisciplinary universities, colleges, and HEI clusters/ Knowledge Hubs, each of which aim at having 3,000 or more students.
The policy envisages a stage-wise mechanism for granting graded autonomy to colleges, through a transparent system of graded accreditation. Colleges will be encouraged, mentored, supported, and incentivised to gradually attain the minimum benchmarks required for each level of accreditation. All colleges currently affiliated to a university shall attain the required benchmarks over time to secure the prescribed benchmarks and eventually become autonomous degree-granting colleges. The policy envisages motivated, energised and capable faculty and therefore emphasises to ensure that each faculty member is happy, enthusiastic, engaged, and motivated towards advancing his/ her students, institution and profession. To this end, the policy recommends that all HEIs will be equipped with the basic infrastructure and facilities and every classroom shall have access to the latest educational technology that enables better learning experiences. Teaching duties also will not be excessive, and student-teacher ratio not too high, so that the activity of teaching remains pleasant and there is adequate time for interaction with students, conducting research, and other activities. Faculty will be appointed to individual institutions and generally not be transferable across institutions so that they may feel truly invested in, connected to, and committed to their institution and community.
Esteemed readers, may I venture to ask how much human and financial resources will be required to enable under-developed higher education institutions to secure the prescribed benchmarks and eventually become autonomous degree-granting colleges and implement the ambitious National Education Policy2020? Having attained the prescribed benchmark to be granted “Autonomous Status” and being capable of implementing the National Education Policy 2020 successfully, don’t I deserve to be encouraged?
It is in the backdrop of impediments blocking my progress that I appeal to the authorities to address the problems I face and allow me to serve the society proficiently and effectively. The main problems that need to be resolved urgently are as follows:
1) To provide permanent and qualified teaching and non-teaching staff in accord with UGC norms and in the light of National Education Policy 2020, and discontinue the practice of transferring local staff.
2) To ensure the release of grants sanctioned in 2015 for construction of a separate Media Block.
3) To transfer possession of the land acquired in 1968.
4) To direct the JKAP to vacate hostel premises.
5) To issue directions to sports officials not to enter the indoor sports complex or the sports field without permission.
The writer is former Principal, Government College Baramulla. firstname.lastname@example.org