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Appeal to rework funding pattern
- Principals discuss academic reforms

Shillong, Feb. 4: College principals from across the country today appealed to the government and other agencies to relook at the funding pattern for educational institutions when colleges are housing 80 per cent of the students for higher education.

At the valedictory function of the 17th annual conference of the Indian Colleges Forum at the Union Christian College, Umiam, the principals, who deliberated on the theme Higher Education in India: The Developing Dynamics, wanted the Centre and other funding agencies like the University Grants Commission (UGC) to relook the funding pattern.

The principals claim that while 80 per cent of the students are in colleges, they receive only 20 per cent of the funds while 80 per cent are given to universities.

Principals from around 50-odd colleges across India deliberated on academic reforms like the introduction of the semester and credit systems in examinations. They also questioned the public-private-partnership mode in education and the involvement of foreign agencies in this crucial sector.

Apart from discussing the introduction of technology in education, the heads of institutions also discussed the social aspects of higher learning. Issues like the quality of students being produced by institutes, reservations and scholarships were also discussed.

Other important aspects covered by the principals include the retirement age for teachers and the salaries being paid to teachers in aided and non-aided institutions.

Chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on education and Congress MP Oscar Fernandes, who chaired the conference, said he would take up the issues with the committee and also with the Union ministry of human resource development.

Although it would take some time to implement the suggestions mooted at the conference, Fernandes, at the same time, claimed that the education sector would see a “sea change” in the years to come.

He also said the government was committed to providing technical education to students since there was a huge demand for them in the international market. “We recently held talks with officials of the European Union who were ready to absorb students with technical expertise,” he added.

While highlighting the issue of brain drain and the dilemma faced by the country, Fernandes asked whether it should be allowed to happen after investing a huge amount on students.

He also said one of the country’s biggest challenges was to reach the world average of students in higher education, which stands at 25 per cent as compared to India’s 12 per cent.

Fernandes said another 1,500 universities were being planned for the country and harped on the need to have more research institutes and ensure that colleges generated enough funds on their own.

Soliciting educational institutions to introduce yoga and ensure a balanced nutritional diet to students, Fernandes said these two would enable the youth to develop and retain their talent.

Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma, the chief guest on the occasion, lamented the scarcity of trained teachers in the educational institutions.

“We need quality teachers, who take teaching not only as a mere employment avenue, but as a passion. This would immensely benefit our children,” Sangma said.

The two-day conference was organised by the Indian Colleges Forum, New Delhi, and the Meghalaya College Principals’ Council.

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