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Degree latch on college control

- Education must to head governing body

Anyone who isn’t a graduate will be ineligible to head the governing body of a college in Bengal after proposed changes to the rule book to cleanse policy-making in education.

The government’s proposal to make a bachelor’s degree the minimum qualification of a person heading a governing body is in response to suggestions from various quarters to set the bar even higher.

Some insist that only academicians should be at the helm of governing bodies of colleges. The general opinion is that if not an academician, he or she should at least be a postgraduate.

“The presidents of many college governing bodies do not have decent educational qualifications. We want to ensure that the person who holds the post is an educated one,” said a senior official of the higher education department.

As of now, anyone can become the president of the governing body of a college, irrespective of education or the lack of it.

The government’s move to include “minimum educational qualification” in the eligibility criteria is in line with Mamata Banerjee’s promise to depoliticise higher education after the change of guard more than two years ago.

Former Trinamul MLA Arabul Islam, who is the president of the governing body of Bhangar Mahavidyalaya in South 24-Parganas, is a matriculate. Last year, Arabul was accused of storming the college staff room one day and flailing his arms in rage, sending a jug crashing into a lady teacher’s chin.

“If the government’s plan to introduce the minimum criteria is introduced, people who haven’t been to college themselves will not be able to head governing bodies anymore,” the education department official said.

While educationists feel a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree would mean little in the absence of “quality control” in universities, the attempt to introduce a minimum educational qualification for a governing body head signals positive intent by the government, the official said.

College governing bodies comprise four elected teachers, two elected non-teaching employees, two university nominees, two state government nominees, a student representative and an ex-officio member, who could be the local municipality chairman, a councillor, gram panchayat pradhan or the college principal.

The president is selected from among the university nominees, the government nominees and the municipality representative or the local councillor/gram panchayat pradhan.

If there is no unanimity in selecting the president from among these five categories, an eminent person of the locality can be named the president.

Arabul became the president of Bhangar Mahavidyalaya as an “eminent person of the locality”.

“Under the proposed system, the governing body might still have the freedom to select an outsider as president. But he or she will have to fulfil the minimum educational criterion,” a source said.

Trinamul MP Saugata Roy had said during a programme at Asutosh College last year, where he once taught physics, that he felt ashamed about people who had studied till Class VIII heading college governing bodies.

“I feel sick in the pit of my stomach,” the former Union minister said, referring to instances of campus violence in such institutions.

Education minister Bratya Basu said in the Assembly recently that a law officer had been appointed to examine the proposal to restructure governing bodies of colleges.

“I have had several discussions with the education minister in this regard. All teachers of an undergraduate college are postgraduates and many of them are doctorates. So there should be a minimum qualification for the president of the governing body,” MP Roy said on Tuesday.