Pitiable state of private first grade colleges

Pitiable state of private first grade colleges

Pitiable state of private first grade colleges
Thirty years is the time taken for the rise and fall of private first grade colle­ges. Post-independence, private colleges were built by individuals, trusts, churches, temples and mutts in rural, semi-rural and urban areas of Karnataka.

These private first grade colleges made higher education accessible to the masses with good infrastructure, teaching and discipline. Until recently, the government colleges did not have these plus points. The government, on its part, extended ‘Grant in Aid’ to these colleges.

The managements initially chose the best of teachers through panel selection. The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (Naac) has accredited many of these colleges with an A grade.

Turn the time machine to the present. There are no students for most of the streams in these colleges. The arts classes are literally empty. The class rooms that can seat 100+ students hardly have 20+. This year, some of the prestigious colleges across the state have received 3-4 applications for BA, BSW and BCA courses.

The number for the commerce stream too is falling in the private colleges. The teacher profile of these colleges has changed over the years. The permanent vacancies have not been filled up. The managements have appointed local candidates on temporary basis on paltry salary. The government colleges today have more number of students than they can accommodate. There are innumerable reasons for this rush in the government colleges:

• There are less students aspiring to join general education in general and humanities stream in particular.
• Most of the PU colleges offer only science and commerce.
• Syllabus, teaching methodology in government as well as private colleges is the same.
• There are more number of permanent and qualified teachers in government colleges; permanent teachers from private colleges have been redeployed to the government colleges.
• Government colleges give incentives like laptops, free education for girls and better combinations.
• The fee structure of the government colleges is very low.
• The infrastructure of government colleges is improving by the day.
• Government is permitting additional sections in commerce stream in these colleges.
• There is private philanthropic partnership in government colleges which has induced vibrancy and excitement.

If the present trend continues, these private colleges will have to face empty classrooms. Many teachers may lose their jobs. The huge infrastructure built will have to be redeployed for other purposes. Its time we asked: should we write the obituary of private aided/unaided first grade colleges without remorse? Are there ways in which we could halt the collapse of these institutions?
Downward slide

Firstly, the state government should sit with the stake holders to stop the downward slide of these institutions which enjoy grant in aid. The department has to appoint permanent teachers or the government should pay the guest lectu­rers who work in these colleges too.  The government should chalk out a plan to admit 50% of students under government quota and allow the managements to fill up the rest of the seats.

Teachers associations have a role to play too. Without sufficient number of students, there is a possibility of layoffs. Proper counselling of the young teachers is essential at this juncture. They need to be encouraged to take higher studies or get a degree in education so that they can seek opportunities in the 1000-plus junior colleges that are mushrooming in the state.

The universities to which these colleges are affiliated have to help these institutions to survive. The universities and the colleges share a symbiotic relationship. The affiliation fee structure could be tweaked to ease the burden on the managements. The syllabus for the arts stream needs a fresh approach.

The managements, on their part, need to make structural adjustments. They need to redefine general education. The problems these colleges are facing are as much the making of the government which did not put enough checks and balances in place to monitor the private colleges.

In a hurry to keep pace with the market economy, most sectors have abandoned their traditional values. Education is no exception to it. Redefining higher education, the role of values in society, redefining profit in education in terms of social change are the right steps to save these institutions and the teachers who have spent years on these colleges.

(The writer is Professor and Head, Department of English, Nehru Memorial College, Sullia, Karnataka)