EDUCATION TRIBUNE

It pays to allow self-financing
…with safeguards, of course, says Amrik Singh
A
few colleges around the country are self-financed. The more you see how these colleges perform, the more you feel that this has been a move in the right direction. The founder of the Manipal Institute had once described how things had been in the beginning (early 1950s).

A century of lessons
Ruins tell you that future was built here, says Karamjit Singh Aujla
T
his school was the first of its kind in Punjab. However, up to 1906, before it got its building and the boarding house, this legendary institution that came up in Ferozepore in 1892 had to be run from various residential quarters.

Campus Notes
Beeline for new courses
GND University, Amritsar: Guru Nanak Dev University kept on receiving queries regarding the new job-oriented courses like post-graduate diploma in hospital management, M.Sc nanotechnology and M.Sc pharmacy even as it released the admission and entrance-test schedule.

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It pays to allow self-financing
…with safeguards, of course, says Amrik Singh

A few colleges around the country are self-financed. The more you see how these colleges perform, the more you feel that this has been a move in the right direction.

The founder of the Manipal Institute had once described how things had been in the beginning (early 1950s). The British had left only a few years earlier and though, there was a growing demand for additional facilities in professional education, the rules then made things difficult.

Dr T. M. A. Pai, founder of that institute, thought if students paid in full for their education and if it was as good as the education they got in government-aided colleges, the experiment could work. Though he had spoken with policy makers on this, it was with considerable difficulty that he could establish a medical college. It was he who brought this change.

He also made sure that the standards of instruction and performance were as good as anywhere else in the country. If the Kasturba Medical College at Manipal now ranks among the top three medical colleges in the country, it is a tribute both to the founder’s vision and resourcefulness and the commitment of his successors in office.

The hospital attached to the college is not only the biggest in India, but also the second biggest in Asia. Private management does not necessarily mean low academic standards. Even though the innovative approach began with medical colleges, it is in engineering and technological institutions that the greater part of the expansion has taken place. Te standards of performance established in the beginning are not being maintained, which is a matter of some disquiet.

Whether at Manipal or some other college, the original promoter never tried to make money out of whatever was raised. Additional money was certainly raised, but every penny was put to good use. It’s not happening in every case. It is there that the government should play a role.

The state has not been regulating things the right way and it has not been doing anything to maintain the academic standards. While, there may be some explanation for it, it is no less important that the state agencies also do their duty. Their first duty, as laid down in the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) Act, is to undertake manpower planning. If the output is more than the demand for trained manpower, there is a case for going slow.

Some 240 colleges were overnight made part of Anna University, Madras, and two things came as a result of that. It weakened the performance of the university and merely a quarter of the colleges have been working satisfactorily.

The second lapse has been on the part of the AICTE. If the requisite number of competent teachers were not available, the state should have ensured that more were enabled to enroll themselves in masters-degree programmes. Scholarships or other incentives ought to have been devised. A system of distance education combined with practical work should have been worked out.

About a quarter of the vacancies in medical education cannot be filled because there are no qualified teachers. The Indian Medical Council is equally to blame.

The attitude of not permitting private venture into professional education has been modified to a great extent partly due to public pressure and partly due to legal intervention. It should be possible for the AICTE and the states to lay down that, within two-three days of the new month, the institutions would send the accounts to the office concerned. Every quarter, these accounts would be audited and at the end of the year, a master statement would be prepared. Why cannot it be made mandatory, with the additional condition that every professional institution would have to seek approval every three years.

Enforcing these rules would mean that crass commercialisation and lowering of standards would become impossible. It would ensure that, in terms of quality, we are able to compete with others.

The writer is a former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala
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A century of lessons

Ruins tell you that future was built here, says Karamjit Singh Aujla

A century ago, this school provided education to princesses and girls from China, Thailand, Burma and Malaysia.
A century ago, this school provided education to princesses and girls from China, Thailand, Burma and Malaysia. — Photo by Anirudh Gupta

This school was the first of its kind in Punjab. However, up to 1906, before it got its building and the boarding house, this legendary institution that came up in Ferozepore in 1892 had to be run from various residential quarters.

For Bhai Takhat Singh, who eastablished Sikh Kanya Mahavidyala, getting a decent building was not the only problem. Convincing the masses to send their daughters to school was a task that was more arduous.

Fortunately, he enjoyed a great respect among the princely states of Punjab and the chiefs and the leaders of the Sikhs. Because they trusted him greatly, the people started sending their daughters to study in his school; and the girls would even come from China, Thailand, Burma and Malaysia.

The chiefs preferred to send their daughters to this school than any other. Many princesses have studied in this school. Daughters of great Sikh scholar, Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha, also got their education from here.

Though, with students coming from such prestigious families, the school had to have a befitting building, getting it was still tough for Bhai Takht Singh. He sailed for China, Thailand, Burma and Malaysia, where a large number of Sikhs had settled and risen to good positions. He pledged that he would either raise at least Rs 50,000 (Rs 5 crore by today's value of the rupee) or never return. He succeeded.

With Rs 50,000 he started constructing the present building and got it ready in 1906. He could now devote himself to improving the quality of education.

The school soon became an example, as the founder laid stress on religious teaching and confidence-building for girls. Girls from this school would marry into the most reputed families of the country.

An orphan girl and a princess studied in the same classroom. They were all "Daughters of Bhai Takhat Singh", as the founder would say. The number of his "daughters" grew to lakhs in the 114 years of the school, which improved the social environment of the Sikh society, as the families in which these girls were married also started appreciating the value of educating women. This started a revaluation of sorts and the Sikh women became the second most educated community; the first being the Parsis. Bhai Takht Singh’s daughter, G Parampal Singh, is also an eminent educationist. This is the centenary year of the first permanent building of the school. Over the century, it has acquired the status of a monument, which should be included in archives and maintained by the Punjab Government.

After the death of Bhai Takht Singh, the school fell into decay for many reasons. Its old glory should be restored and the Sikh leaders and the Punjab Government should bear this responsibility.

The first school for the Sikh women is a landmark in history; it should be elevated to status of at least a college. Institutions having a background of 114 years are rare.

Projecting the history of this school would make the people aware what pioneering work had been done for the women's education in Punjab, especially now when female foeticide has become an accepted sin in the state.

In this centenary year of the school, the aims of the founding father still hold good.

The present state of the school is far from satisfactory. It needs to be renovated, a dignity it richly deserves.

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Campus Notes
Beeline for new courses

GND University, Amritsar: Guru Nanak Dev University kept on receiving queries regarding the new job-oriented courses like post-graduate diploma in hospital management, M.Sc nanotechnology and M.Sc pharmacy even as it released the admission and entrance-test schedule.

Queries were about the contents of the courses and the scope of employment after finishing these courses. There was a huge crowd on all days in the university offices of they who needed the prospectus and forms for applying for admission to these courses.

The PG diploma in hospital management would be a joint academic programme with practical training in Escort Hospitals and basic course in Department of Sports Medicine and Physiotherapy of University. The admission is open to MBBS, BDS, BPT, B.Sc genetics, nursing, human biology, biotechnology, B.Pharmacy, BE, M.Tech., B.Arch, M.Sc in life sciences candidates. The university would introduce diploma in medical jurisprudence from the academic year 2007, for which the syllabus and ordinances have already been designed.

On behalf of the Punjab Government, the university would also conduct MET-2006 for admission to two-year MBA Course and PAM-CAT-2006 for admission to three-year MCA course in the affiliated institutions of this university, Punjabi University, Patiala, and Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar on June 4.

Scholar makes it to IAS

Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar: S. Thirugnana Sambadan, a student of Haryana Agricultural University (HAU) here, has cleared the prestigious Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. He has secured the 208th rank in the final merit list for the IAS.

Thiru is pursuing his Ph.D in genetics at the university, for which he has been awarded the Junior Research Fellowship by the CSIR. Dr R. P. Saharan, Head of the Department of Genetics, who is also Thiru's guide, describes him as "a brilliant student who has got first class throughout his academic career".

Dr J. C. Katyal, HAU Vice-Chancellor, said his selection in the Civil Services was a matter of pride for the university.

There are a few more students from the HAU who have made it to the Central as well as state administrative services in the past few years. While one student cleared the Civil Services Exam last year, another made it to the Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Service. Another HAU student had cleared the IFS exam two years ago.

— Contributed by Pawan Kumar and Sunit Dhawan

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