Patna College, which recently celebrated its 150th year of inception, has over the years seen a gradual decline in terms of academic affairs. Why?
This is not an abrupt phenomenon, but a gradual process that has happened over the years. Owing to various factors, students from rural background started taking admission in Patna College with high scores in classes X and XII. But many deserving students, mainly those from English medium schools and convents, are finding it extremely difficult to get admission in our college. However, the performances of the students coming from villages in class examinations (read graduation) do not meet expectations.
Over a period of time, indiscipline became the order of the day in the college and students were not afraid of teachers. Another problem area was an acute shortage of teachers in the college because no appointment was done for more than a decade. Hostels started becoming centres of trouble. Setting up of institutions such as Vanijya Mahavidhalya and Nadvi Hostel on the college premises increased flow of outsiders to the campus. As there’s a severe shortage of non-teaching staff with no security personnel at the entrance gate, outsiders, mainly people from Ramna Road, enter the campus and create all sorts of troubles, such as eve-teasing and group clashes.
But what are the ways to improve the scenario?
For any institution, its students are the biggest stakeholders. We will increase the involvement of our students in academic programmes. I have prepared a master routine with a focus on holding classes regularly. I roam around the college campus regularly to find out whether classes are held properly or not. Infrastructure of the hostels will be improved and there will also be regular supply of newspapers and magazines at the facilities.
What are the plans for improvement in sports?
Patna College has two big grounds — an asset for any educational institution. After a gap of nearly a decade, the college has successfully organised the inter-hostel tournament on the occasion of its sesquicentennial celebrations. A cricket match was held on January 15. To increase infrastructure facilities, the college administration has decided to revive the common rooms by constituting an athletics committee. Moreover, the college has decided to organise its annual day function in February. As the post of physical training instructor (sports teacher) is lying vacant for several years, I have requested the university administration to fill up the post. Vice-chancellor Shambhu Nath Singh has pledged to take steps in this direction. The college will get a new badminton court and a cricket pitch as well. Once the college gets a sports teacher, the students will start receiving sports kits.
What steps the administration will take to improve the law and order? Group clashes and eve-teasing have become a regular feature at Patna College.
Law and order can be improved only if there is an improvement in the academic scenario and students become obedient. In any academic institution, interference of police can’t help in improvement of law and order. I have asked some senior teachers to come forward and take the responsibility in improving the law and order situation in the college by becoming hostel superintendents. There are a number of hostels that do not have any superintendent. Besides, the boarders at hostel will be provided with newspapers and magazines. We will also try to organise extra-curricular activities for the students.
What’s the future of higher education in Bihar?
The biggest problem before universities in Bihar is that most of the universities are running with just half the sanctioned posts of teachers. The last time when there was an appointment of teachers was in 2003. The appointment of teachers was done on the basis of the 1997 vacancies. Besides, the syllabus of university has not been revised. The syllabus of postgraduate courses was revised with introduction of semester system. But in undergraduate courses, the old syllabus is still being followed. There should be a transparency in all level of appointments at the university — right from the appointment of the vice-chancellors, to the principals, teachers and other employees.
Patna University is the seventh oldest university in the country but it still doesn’t have the Central University status. Why?
I think that the biggest reason why Patna University is still struggling to get the status is approach. During the 11th Plan, the Union government announced that all states will have a central university and in this step Bihar received the gift of two central universities — one in Motihari and another in Gaya. According to information what I have gathered, neither the state government nor the university administration has ever sent a proper proposal to the Union government for according Central University status to Patna University. It was Shambhu Nath Singh who had sent a proper proposal to the Union government for according a central university status to Patna University. But the Planning Commission has stated that in 12th Five-Year Plan there would be no more central university.
About Rash Bihari Prasad Singh.
Rash Bihari Prasad Singh hails from a middle class farmer’s family. After completing his matriculation from a school in 1966 at his Sadpur village in Jamui district, Singh joined Patna College in 1968 and since then remained with the college. After completing his masters from Patna University, he joined Patna College in 1976 as a lecturer. Singh has held various posts at Patna University such as the head of the department of geography and proctor of Patna University. From 2004-08, he remained the pro-vice-chancellor of Nalanda Open University. A renowned geography teacher, he has also given tuition to many students who cleared civil service examinations. There are many students who are at present holding top bureaucratic posts and recall Singh’s contribution to their success. Singh has two children — son Ravi Shekhar who, after completing engineering from IIT Kharagpur is working with a multinational company in the US and daughter Reshmi Shekhar, who is pursuing MCA at Patna University.
What would you have been if not a teacher?
I would have joined politics. During my student days, there were many leaders from Bihar whom I considered as role models.
Excellence tag issue
Despite being the oldest college in Bihar, Patna College has not been included in the list of colleges with the centre of excellence tag. Why ?
It is very unfortunate that Patna College, one of the oldest colleges in India, is not included in the list of centre of excellence. I will urge the university administration and also the state government to include it in the list of institutes with the centre of excellence tag. As the college celebrated its 150th year of inception, it will urge the University Grants Commission to provide funds for infrastructural and academic development of the institute . Though the college is not included in the list of centre of excellence, recently the state government has provided Rs 1.68 crore for infrastructure development of its hostels. Of the total Rs 1.68 crore, around Rs 1 crore will be spent for renovation at Minto and Jackson hostels. Similarly, Rs 68 lakh will be spent for the renovation of New and Nadvi hostels.