Tuesday, May 27, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Dreams that dash college results
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 26
Even though various new vocations have been created for students, parents in the Malwa hinterland of Punjab still dream of grooming their children as engineers or doctors.

Such a situation has seen a 2000-student-strong institution like General Shivdev Singh Dewan Gurbachan Singh Khalsa College here produce miserable results since its inception in 1960. This year, 60 of the 150 students who took the 10 plus two examinations in the science stream failed while 26 students failed in one paper. Only 60 students were able to clear the examinations.

A teacher of the college gives a rather crude explanation for the miserable results, saying that “the cream goes to Mohindra College, the milk to Modi College and whatever is left is absorbed by us”. This seems to be true if the admission procedure of the college is examined. Last year, the college did not even have any cut-off percentage for admission to the science stream. This, sources said, was because Modi College, also in the city, had increased its intake of students. This resulted in readmission of even failed students to the college.

“What can I do?” asks Principal Harbir Singh. He says at least 80 per cent of the students admitted to the college come from a rural background. “Their parents have fixed notions about making their children doctors or engineers. The arts stream is considered a taboo as parents feel no good will result from studying arts subjects. However, as most of the admitted students have barely managed to pass the matric level, it is difficult for them to cope up with the science and commerce streams. This leads to repeated failures,” he reasons.

What is surprising, according to the Principal, is the fact that many times parents want their wards to take admission into the science stream even after having failed in the plus one or plus two examinations. “When we have sufficient seats we are forced to take such cases,” he said. Moreover, students studying in the college lack interest in their studies. Dr Harbir Singh said the college had advertised that it would give free coaching in the non-medical, medical, and commerce streams during the two-month-long summer vacations but the offer failed to evince any response.

The college now planned to hold free classes for students during the regular session in the evenings. It had also been decided to create a guidance cell from the next session. The cell could judge the aptitude of students and advise them on the course they should take up . He said he had approached the local management committee of the college to allow him to attract talented students by offering scholarships. He also favoured a centralised admission system for admission to the three degree colleges in the city, saying that the college could only show results if it received the right mix of students.

Former Modi College Principal S. R. Sahni said parents in rural areas were still to understand the declining potential of some of the conventional streams, particularly the non-medical one. He said the priorities of the Punjab Government also appeared to be skewed. “The government wants to discourage a large number of students from pursuing higher education by raising the fee structure. However, like in the case of agriculture the government should provide practical alternatives to the students to make them self-sufficient.”


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