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October 5, 2009

Flouting rules, junior colleges grow unabated

GUWAHATI/JORHAT/DIBRUGARH, Oct 5: According to official records, there are about 54 junior colleges in the State, and most of them are in Guwahati. A survey conducted by The Sentinel has revealed that over 50 per cent of the junior colleges of the State do not follow the guidelines laid down in the Assam Non-government Educational Institution (Regulation and Management) Act, 2006, and the State Education Department is not taking any action against them.

According to the Act, a party can apply for permission for setting up of a junior college only after fulfilling the criteria that if it is in an urban area, it should have minimum one bigha of land with a multi-storeyed building. If it has no land of its own, it can take land on lease for at least 20 years. But the survey conducted by The Sentinel has revealed that most of the junior colleges in the State are run in congested buildings and without following norms laid down in the relevant Act. The colleges have no registration with the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC) or the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), and they make their students take examinations from other recognized institutions. The relevant Act falls short of any clear-cut guidelines to check the menace.

In Guwahati, junior colleges like AMITY Academy, St Xavier Junior College, Luit Academy, City Academy and Zigyasha Academy are housed in rented buildings without any affiliation to the AHSEC. There are other junior colleges like Srimanta Sankardev Junior College, Swadeshi Academy, Arya Bhatta Junior College and Icon Academy which have fulfilled the criteria mentioned in the relevant Act. They have their own buildings and land.

When contacted, AMITY Academy Principal Mukul Sarma said: “We are in a rented house, and we have no affiliation with the AHSEC. We make our students take examination through other institutions. It is up to the government to decide our fate.”

Most of the authorities of other junior colleges made similar comments. All of them are of the view that they cater to the educational needs of students who pass the HSLC examination in third and lower second divisions.

“Our venture is need-based, and how to recognize us is up to the government to decide. Closure is, however, not the solution,” they said.

There is a provision in the Act that a party can start a junior college in rented building. If it has no building, it has to own such infrastructure within a specific period of time. But these norms are not properly followed or inspected by the Education Department. There are also cases that college managements employ qualified teachers with meagre salaries. If any teachers raise their voice against such matters, they are simply axed from their service. These are some of the ailments that the junior colleges of the State are being run with, and how the State Education Department will tackle them is a matter to be watched.

JORHAT: Ninety per cent of the private junior colleges in Jorhat district are functioning without norms laid down in the Assam Non-government Educational Institutions (Regulation and Management) Act, 2006. This was disclosed by Jorhat Inspector of Schools TC Saikia.

Saikia, however, said they are fulfilling an important social need, and closure of these colleges depends on the Directorate of Secondary Education, Guwahati where reports and recommendations are sent regularly from his office.

Saikia said junior colleges have mushroomed all over Jorhat and many of them are illegal. “Most of the junior colleges don’t have one bigha of land, and are functioning from rented houses, thus violating two of the regulations,” he said.

Among the ones in Jorhat, Mentors House is one which has fulfilled all the norms except the requisite land area. It is operating from its own quarters and the multi-storeyed building has two staircases, and is equipped with adequate fire safety measures.

Luit Valley took land on lease for 25 years and has fulfilled other criteria except for a coaching centre for IIT-JEE examinations, which is without government sanction.

Crescent Academy and Shankardev Junior College are operating from rented houses and do not have the requisite one bigha of land.

Likewise, Abhigyan Junior College and Anamitra Junior College, both of which have violated these regulations, Dr Saikia said, have applied for land or are in the process of buying land in the outskirts of the town as informed by the respective authorities.

The Jyoti Vidyapeeth at Teok, while fulfilling most of the criteria, has a high tension electric cable running over the college. “I told the school authorities to either shift the college or try to shift the electric cable as it has posed a danger to the students of the college, but this has been ignored till date,” Saikia said. “There are many junior colleges like Valley High Junior College which are operating without applying for registration,” he added.

The students of Jyoti Vidyapeeth and Crescent Academy have excelled in higher secondary examinations this year with a couple of them achieving positions from both the colleges.

DIBRUGARH: The 18 junior colleges in Dibrugarh district have failed to fulfil the eligibility criteria as specified in the new directives of the State Government.

Technically speaking, all these educational institutions are found wanting as none has a playground of its own. Moreover, a number of them do not meet the basic requirement of owning one bigha of land. After the introduction of new rules for setting up junior college, a number of these junior colleges like MG Academy and Gyan Vigyan Academy have either bought land or have taken land on long-term lease. According to the principals of the two junior colleges, Noor Mohammed and Rajiv Sahu respectively, they are in the process of constructing their building on their own premises. A physical verification by this reporter revealed that MG Academy under the name and style of MG Academy and Educational Society has been constructing its college building at Boiragimath, but Gyan Vigyan is yet to start construction of its building. Both the principals told this reporter that they had furnished all documents necessary for registration to the Inspector of Schools. They also claimed that they got prior permission for setting up their colleges. As per rules, institutions which receive prior permission have to fulfil the necessary requirements like construction of building, formation of society and Trust, and appointment of permanent principal, faculty members etc within two years, failing which the registration of the colleges will not be granted.

Similarly, other colleges like Chabua Junior College, Barbaruah Junior College, AM College, Assam Valley Arts College and many others have applied for permission. Some of them have received permission, while some are yet to get it. However, all of them have been running their business in full strength.

Investigation revealed that Salt Brook Academy, Little Flower School and Aniruddha Deva Junior College of Dibrugarh, Lahowal College and St Xavier’s School of Duliajan are the only registered institutions, while the others have applied for it. Only Salt Brook Academy and Aniruddha Deva Junior College have been granted permission to have their own examination centres.

It has also come to light that all of them had started making their students take the higher secondary examination through recognized colleges without the knowledge of the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council. Such institutions are, thus, literally free from any responsibility towards their students, who are recognized as examinees of some other colleges.

Meanwhile, there are allegations that Gyan Vigyan Academy in Dibrugarh town is luring students in the name of a high-profile tutorial institution, which has its presence in name only. In effect, this results in long hours of classes for the already overburdened students. It was also seen that in some cases, qualified teachers to impart tutorial classes were absent. In spite of the above, the students are made to pay through their noses. However, Rajiv Sahu of Gyan Vigyan asserted that students flocked to his institution because they could avail the opportunity of attending regular classes along with those of tutorials. He further said that the tutorial and the junior college were different entities running under separate societies.

However, Gyan Vigyan was not forthcoming when questioned on the constitution of its management committee. Besides, it has no library facility worth the name.

In an interview with The Sentinel, the Inspector of Schools, Phatik Doley, said that barring Sasoni Junior College, no other institution had received government financial assistance. He admitted that the failure to receive the grant was because they had failed to fulfil the criteria required under government rules.

Asom Education Minister Gautam Bora, when contacted, said the Assam Non-government Educational Institutions (Regulation and Management) Act, 2006 was enacted in order to regulate non-government junior colleges, but it very difficult to implement the Act in toto at the initial stage. “Now I am serious about implementing the Act,” Bora said, and added: “I have asked the officials concerned to conduct spot verification of not only non-government junior colleges, but schools also. The junior colleges can hold examination after academic permission only. I am going on that line. This doesn’t mean I am against junior colleges. I will give them time to fulfil the criteria. I have personally visited a junior college and found that it was being run in a congested building.” THE SENTINEL

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