The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Law change hope for BEd students

Calcutta, July 3: The Centre has assured the Bengal government that the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993, would be amended, raising a flicker of hope for about 5,000 BEd students.

Calcutta High Court had earlier declared as illegal the BEd course in 36 state-aided colleges because they did not have affiliation with the council, a must for all teachers’ training colleges in India.

The court also asked the colleges to pay a compensation of Rs 5,000 to each student admitted for the 2005-2006 session and return admission and other fees taken from them.

Higher education minister Sudarshan Roy Choudhury said in the Assembly today the amendment to the act would help the state end the impasse in the 36 BEd colleges, which can now neither hold exams nor admit new students.

Through the amendment, some of the conditions that BEd colleges need to fulfil to get council affiliation would be “simplified”.

For instance, according to rule, every BEd college needs to maintain a 10:1 student-teacher ratio. None of the 36 derecognised BEd meet the condition.

The amendment is the “most suitable” option for the government, Roy Choudhury said. “There is another option open to us. We can challenge the high court order in the Supreme Court,” he added.

But an appeal to the apex court would be a long-drawn process, the minister conceded.

The monsoon session of Parliament, during which the amendment bill would be tabled, will begin on July 27.

Replying to a question by the Opposition on the stalemate in the BEd colleges, the minister said officials of the Union human resource development ministry agreed to make the amendment at a meeting with Bengal advocate-general Balai Ray.

An education department official said the NCTE had denied affiliation to the Bengal colleges because “they did not fulfil the parameters conforming to the requirements laid down in the NCTE Act”.

To obtain affiliation, besides having a teacher for every 10 students, the colleges need to have spacious classrooms, well-equipped labs, separate common rooms for boys and girls and playgrounds.

For the colleges’ fault, the students, though, are suffering now. The state government had earlier deferred this year’s BEd examination and admissions for the 2006-2007 session on its own until the disposal of the court case.

The minister today said: “The government understands the anxiety of the students... the ministry of human resource development has assured us all possible steps to solve the problem at the earliest.”

On June 15, Roy Choudhury and finance minister Asim Dasgupta were part of a Bengal delegation that met HRD minister Arjun Singh in Delhi and sought an amendment to the 1993 law.

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