Assam Colleges to shed Plus II

Dispur to start with three government institutions from 2011
Guwahati, May 14: Dispur has finally decided on a roadmap envisaging a “smooth phase-wise” delinking of Plus II courses from degree colleges by 2016, starting with three government colleges next year.
The education department had been working and reworking on the draft roadmap since November 2009, accommodating and allaying concerns about the move, making it clear that the state has no option but to embrace the delinking as it is already late by 50 years. Of the options considered earlier, one was the possibility of setting up the plus-two section within the degree college set-up itself, to work around the shortage of both teachers and infrastructure.
The highlight of the action plan includes the withdrawal of 200 seats each from the premier Cotton College in 2012 and 2013 so that it can be developed into a centre of excellence by solely concentrating on higher education and research from 2014.
H.M. Caire, additional chief secretary, education, confirmed the department’s move to approach the cabinet with the roadmap “hopefully” by June as it was the latter which would eventually take a call on the move with likely dates for its launch.
The department is worried that the colleges’ reliance on plus two has deprived most of these institutions from growing, reflected as it is from the availability of only 3,000 post-graduate seats in the state.
“It is too little too less. Most are deprived from pursuing postgraduate courses and other job-oriented courses while many who get seats, do not get through, affecting their employability. Delinking is not a new suggestion. Almost all education commissions since 1903 have mooted separation of Plus II from degree colleges. Even in small towns in Bihar and UP, we have colleges offering postgraduate courses. Here, either you have to go to Dibrugarh or Guwahati or Silchar to do a PG course in most cases. How many can afford it?” a department source argued.
“One reason for people from other educationally-advanced states getting jobs here is because we do not have qualified people here. Once the delinking is through, the colleges can use the available infrastructure to introduce more job-oriented and PG courses. We are already late by 50 years. The damage has been done but now we should realise that the delay will further compound the problem of employment in the state as well as growth of these degree colleges. It’s a choice we have to make but it better late than never,” the source said.
A section of teachers and academicians are opposed to the delinking of Plus II classes from degree colleges on the ground that the higher secondary schools neither had the infrastructure nor adequate faculty to cater to the additional load of students.
However, the sources argued that the fears were misplaced. The phase-wise implementation, they maintain, would allow the government to provide necessary infrastructure.
The directorate of secondary education is on the job of assessing the existing infrastructure and the estimated requirement by way of classrooms, faculty, library and lab facilities.
Dispur is most likely to tap funds under the centrally-sponsored Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), launched in 2009. The move will help set up new secondary schools in deficit areas and strengthening of infrastructure in the existing ones, among others. The World Bank has evinced interest in funding the Centre’s flagship programme.
“The idea is to target the colleges offering arts followed by commerce and science so that we can take care of the infrastructure bit. Haflong, Kokrajhar and Diphu government colleges will be the first to be de-linked next year. Degree colleges offering Plus II courses is unacceptable by the University Grants Commission. It will also not accept running of junior colleges from the same campus. At best, it can be a temporary arrangement,” a source said.