Notwithstanding its tall claims over overhauling higher education sector, Jammu and Kashmir Government has been announcing many colleges—without upgrading the existing ones—a move affecting thousands of students in the restive region.
Even as the government is in the process of establishing new degree colleges across the valley, the ones established more than a decade ago—like Degree College Dooru in south Kashmir’s district Anantnag continues to face the official apathy on the other side.
Scores of students while taking to Rising Kashmir expressed their resentment—saying that the colleges are being set up for “public appeasement” to garner votes by the political regimes. They said that the newly established colleges were getting little or inappropriate infrastructure to function smoothly. One such example was the Government Degree College Dooru—where around 1600 students are stuffed inside eight lecture halls, many of whom travel from as far as Banihal area of Jammu region on daily basis to attend college, while others have to attend the lectures in corridors or in lawns under the open sky.
“Enrollment in this this college is swelling with students converging from as far as Banihal, Qazigund, Verinag, Kapran and over hundreds of other villages from the adjacent areas while as there are only eight lecture halls or classrooms to teach,” said a teacher, wishing anonymity.
“Our college has now converted small rooms meant for storing furniture or of office use into classrooms also in order to accommodate the students. The actual requirement of proper lecture halls is no less than 20 rooms and it may rise with more and more admission of students in near future,” he said, adding “We are compelled to provide lectures even in the corridors. With the introduction of choice based credit system, by which students get a choice to select additional papers in their courses, the subject combinations have increased and going by this necessity we require more than 25 lecture halls at the moment. Despite using all the available space we are forced to conduct open air classes and also inside the garage which was actually meant for college vehicles.”
According to insiders, the college has an option for the expansion but as per the experts, the location of the college is odd as it is located on a hillock with steep and irregular ground.
“In order to expand the college and to construct more buildings here, we need to extract around 3000-4000 truckloads of soil to flatten and level the ground. Then only a structure can be erected and this is a costly affair as the spot is steep. The already existing building isn’t either feasible for a college as the technicalities have not been kept in mind during its design and construction. Even if the college has been allotted 40 kanals of land, all of it is not usable,” said an official, working in the college.
The students rue the government’s decision to establish new colleges when the government seems less interested in providing the required facilities.
“What was the need to provide colleges everywhere when the government has no will to provide proper infrastructure. In college, a student requires a grooming for 3-4 years which develops the vision of a student for his career. We are taught inside improper rooms and sometimes in sheds as there are no proper classes at disposal. Even the staff isn’t permanent which affects the classes for most of the times as the college mostly relies on contractual lecturers who are a cheap labour to the government. We have got disillusioned on experiencing such a college life and it has a serious affect on our studies too. Such colleges do not serve their purpose as there is lack of facilities in each and every way and it is total waste of time in the name of graduation. Our college not only lacks proper classrooms but there is no ground available for sports activities either. A lone Assistant professor for Physics in our college was also recently transferred suddenly without being replaced by any suitable substitute,” say a group of students.
The college Principal says they have explored all the possibilities to provide hassle free classes to the students.
“We have explored all the possibilities and are conducting classes regularly. We have put even the garage and corridors to use and whenever the weather permits, even the lectures are provided under open air. There are certain hurdles in constructing new buildings for classrooms and the amount to flatten the land for such structures is exorbitant which can only be taken up by the higher authorities,” says Principal Government Degree college Dooru, Dr Bashir Ahmed Wani.
Commissioner Secretary, Department of Higher Education, J&K Government, Talat Parvez Rohella told Rising Kashmir that government was in the process of providing infrastructure to newly established colleges.
“I will examine this issue. It is the job of engineers to provide design and construct buildings so we will ask the related people to prepare a DPR and see if we can expand the infrastructure for this college too,” he said.