Thursday, May 31, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Tribune impact
Teachers quitting or closing shop
Haryana clampdown on private tuitions
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Succumbing to pressure built up by the Haryana Government against the menace of private tuitions two lecturers —one each at Hisar and Yamunanagar — have decided to quit their jobs while several others have refunded the fee to their students for the remaining part of their tuition sessions as a majority of the private coaching centres run by university and college lecturers in the state have either closed down or suspended their work.

To give a message that the government means business this time, a raid was conducted on a private coaching centre run by a government college lecturer at Yamunanagar last week. The raid was jointly conducted by the Department of Higher Education and the Yamunanagar district administration. The entire raid was video taped. Fourtyeight students were attending the private tuition at 7.15 a.m. on the day of the raid.

“We have decided to file an FIR against the teacher concerned under Section 168 of the Indian Penal Code besides referring the matter to the Income Tax Department for survey and the necessary action. Besides, departmental proceedings for imposing a major penalty are also being initiated against the lecturer,” says Mrs Anuradha Gupta, Commissioner-cum-Director, Higher Education, maintaining that similar raids would be conducted at other places, including Gurgaon, Rohtak and Hisar, from where reports of similar activities by college and university lecturers had been received. The tuition charges at certain places were Rs 250 an hour.

The political will of the government to weed out this menace from the state is reflected by the interest shown by the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, in the matter. He has reportedly decided to take up the matter with the Union Human Resource Minister, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, maintaining that the tuition menace has assumed a serious socio-economic dimension.

Though bulk of the coaching is for entrance to various professional courses, including engineering and medical colleges, tuitions are also available for postgraduate classes, languages, commerce, mathematics and even subjects like economics, botany and zoology.

One of the apprehensions of the parents of students has been that in the absence of extra or professional coaching, students from Haryana may not be able to compete with their counterparts in other states who get specialised or professional coaching.

“They have a point,” agrees Mrs Gupta. “Our Chief Minister and Education Minister are going to write DO letters to both the Union Human Resource Minister and the Union Education Secretary to rationalise the entrance tests by basing these on the +2 syllabi.

“The purpose of the entrance test is to judge the relative merit of a student. This can be judged on the basis of the CBSE syllabi also. Why make the child almost prepare in accordance with the first-year syllabus of an engineering college,” she said holding that imposing a ban on college and university lecturers does not mean that there would be no private or specialised coaching.

“There are a large number of experienced and retired lecturers in the state who run or can run special coaching classes. And if college lecturers feel that there is more money in private coaching centres, let them quit their jobs and start their own centres,” she added.

Though May 23 was the last date for both the managements and principals of non-government aided colleges to furnish affidavits to the effect that they had verified that no member of the teaching staff of their institutions was taking private tuitions, the date has been extended by 10 days on the request of the Principals and the managements. Most of the colleges have already submitted their affidavits.

Yesterday, when a meeting of the principals of government colleges was held here, it was made clear that the principal concerned would be held responsible if a lecturer was found taking tuitions.

The Tribune undertook a random survey to find out the response to this decision of the government. The findings are as follows:

The cracking of the whip by the government against tuitions by college teachers seems to have had a considerable effect in Ambala.

The Principal of SA Jain College, Ambala city, Dr C.L. Singla, said that he had been running an anti-tuition campaign for the past five years. ‘‘As a matter of fact, for the past two years, we have been asking teachers to submit affidavits that they are not taking tuitions,’’ he said.

He said on Sunday last he along with other staff members paid a surprise visit to the residences of teachers to ascertain whether they were taking tuitions or not. ‘‘We started at 6 a.m. and our checking continued for about three hours. Not a single teacher was detected taking tuitions,’’ he said.

The Principal of SD College (Lahore), Dr Desh Bandhu, said that the relevant affidavits had already been submitted by teachers. ‘‘Only a few teachers are left, mostly women lecturers who have gone on vacation. In the affidavit, besides mentioning tuitions, we have added that the teacher is also not engaged in any private business or anything else which is against the profession,’’ he said.

Mr I.D. Shukla, Principal of GMN College, observed that college teachers who were taking tuitions were now under tremendous pressure following the government directions.

“In the college, many teachers have submitted the affidavits. We have sought relaxation for the submission of the affidavits so that all documents can be forwarded to the authorities concerned together,’’ he said.

A lecturer at Government College, Ambala cantt, said the teachers had already submitted the necessary affidavits regarding tuitions. ‘‘Unlike the private colleges, we gave the affidavits quite some time ago,’’ he said.

In Kurukshetra, college teachers, who were preparing plus two students for various entrance examinations, have stopped coaching classes at their residences or private coaching centres. A few of them have even reportedly returned the balance tuition fee to their students.

The Registrar of Kurukshetra University, Dr Hawa Singh, said the government decision to ban tuitions had been widely appreciated by a majority of the teachers.

Kurukshetra University’s senior Professor and former Dean of Arts and Languages, Prof A.S. Kang, said that this decision, if implemented strictly, would enable poor students, who were not able to pay high tuition fees, to get justice.

The local University College Principal, Mrs Chand Dutta, says that the mushroom growth of engineering and other professional colleges as well as the conduct entrance tests are the main reasons for the setting up of coaching centres. Students are being compelled to go in for tuitions.

Criticising the Haryana Government’s decision to ban tuitions, some parents said their “average” and “below average” wards needed extra coaching to pass their annual examinations.

In Rohtak, the Vice-Chancellor of Maharshi Dayanand University, Maj-Gen B.S. Suhag (retd), described the government action as a step in the right direction. He pleaded for taking strong measures to eliminate the menace of private tuitions.

The Vice-Chancellor did not rule out the possibility of certain teachers quitting their jobs because of their huge earnings from coaching centres. Mr Hans Raj, a resident, said ‘‘The common man has heaved a sigh of relief as a majority of the students, belonging to middle class families, cannot afford the heavy tuition fees’’.

Mrs Saroj Hooda, Principal, IC Government College for Women, Rohtak, justified the government decision, saying that the coaching academies run by certain teachers were “education shops”. The students were fleeced in the name of competitive examinations, she said.

Mrs Hooda, however pleaded that the government should consider other options to prepare students for competitive examinations, failing which they would go to Delhi for the purpose.

The Principal of University College, Rohtak, Mr Dharamsukh Dahiya, feels that after the ban on tuitions, students could no longer afford to miss their classes. Teachers, too, would have to pay more attention to class work.

The Principal of Jat College, Dr I.S. Dalal, claims that none of his teachers is taking tuitions. ‘‘We have procured affidavits from every teacher”. The institution, he said, was running extra coaching classes on nominal charges for students preparing for competitive examinations.

In Hisar, while those taking tutions on a large scale have temporarily suspended classes, others continue to teach in groups as usual despite the government obtaining affidavits from them to the contrary. A teacher of Haryana Agricultural University has reportedly sought voluntary retirement to set up a chain of academies here and in the nearby towns. Enquiries reveal that no other teacher taking tuitions plans to quit.

Although most teachers feel the campaign is timely, they do not think it will check the menace for the simple reason that a student wanting to make it to a professional course cannot do so without tuitions. There appears to be no possibility of a student getting admission to a professional course on the basis of classroom teaching alone, they say.

No teacher is willing to be quoted by name either for or against tuitions. However, almost all of them say that no teacher should take tuitions. In any case there are only a handful of teachers who have made tuitions a big business. Most of them are from reputed private colleges here in Hisar from the two local universities also.

Both parents and teachers say that there is little the government can do about such teachers. In the case of government colleges, such teachers do not fear a transfer on this count since they have the “right political connections”.

Teachers also feel that they have been singled out as no steps have been taken against non-teaching employees running side businesses. This is specially true of HAU, where a large number of such employees have been engaged in various businesses for years together without incurring the wrath of the authorities.

— With inputs from Rahul Das (Ambala), D.R. Vij (Kurukshetra), Jatinder Sharma (Rohtak) and Raman Mohan (Hisar).

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