The Punjab Vidhan Sabha after a long time on Tuesday saw members from the treasury as well opposition benches speaking on the falling standards of education in the state, when the Rayat-Bahra University Bill, 2014, was presented for approval. The Bill forming the private university was passed nevertheless, and will now go for the governor’s formal assent before becoming an Act.
During the debate, though, not only the Congress but a section the ruling SAD-BJP also opposed the university and even criticised technical education minister Madan Mohan Mittal, who stood up in support of the Bill and advocated that the university would do good for students, especially those from the rural areas. “Colleges run by the Rayat and Bahra Educational Trust are already imparting quality education,” stressed Mittal, adding that private universities had “revolutionised” higher education in the state.
But Mittal’s fellow BJP MLA and former minister Manoranjan Kalia argued, “There is a mad race for setting up universities in the state. It is a serious matter, and commercialisation of education must be stopped.” He suggested setting up a regulatory authority over functioning of the universities, and also demanded keeping a tab on foreign students coming to these universities as, according to Kalia, these students indulge in drug trafficking. He concluded his dissent against the Bill by saying that “private universities are playing with the future of youth”. “Don’t make universities which loot students,” said SAD MLA Pawan Kumar Tinu.
Earlier, beginning the debate, Congress’ Kuljit Singh Nagra said that a fact-finding team from the University Grants Commission had pointed that the Trust that intends to run the university “lacks insight to concentrate on education”.
After giving clearance to the universities run by private trusts, the government has no control over them, he said: “Why has the government not checked financial antecedents of the Trust before bringing in the Bill?” Underlining that the Trust had shown annual profits in crores, Nagra demanded that the government ensure affordable education from these universities.
Ajit Inder Singh Mofar of the Congress pointed out that government schools were not doing any good to students. “A number of those who form the present class of bureaucracy are from government schools; but now these schools can’t produce such quality of passouts,” he said.