Popularly referred to as "Shanti Niketan of Punjab", this girls' college in the interiors of Riarki belt of Gurdaspur district has set a new benchmark in self-governance.
At a time when most colleges in Punjab are finding it hard to cope with shortage of staff, Baba Aya Singh Riarki Girls College stands out as an exception. It is managing the show with just five teachers, and managing it well by redefining the teacher-taught equation.
The taught double up as teachers here, in sync with the maxim of "each one, teach one". With brilliant students teaching their juniors, the college has never felt the need for more teachers.
The college has only two clerks to look after its accounts. The remaining work is being managed by students, who have especially been trained for the purpose.
The students not only keep their surroundings clean by sweeping the floors, but also conduct examinations on their own. Surprisingly, no case of cheating has been reported from the college.
The college had collected Rs 21,000 from students as a reward for anyone who detects a case of copying. No one has been able to claim this money so far. It is for this reason that Guru Nanak Dev University and the state school education board deploy minimal staff in the college on exam duty.
An 11-member student committee, en elected body headed by a secretary, manages everything from admissions to exams. The committee also decides the fee structure.
Principal Swaran Singh Virk said the college only charges for the "real expenditure" incurred on students. The annual fees is Rs 800 for day scholars and Rs 5,000 for hostellers.
Emphasising the role of the college in character building, Virk said, "We haven't turned education into a business. Our stress is on making the institution and its students self-reliant. Students themselves cook the food for hostellers."
There is no discrimination on the basis of caste or religion as the college celebrates festivals of all religions. Students have the liberty to perform their religious rituals in the college independently.
The college has its own solar system, a dairy farm and a biogas plant, all managed by students, who are also required to voluntarily plant saplings every year.
The college has set an example in discipline while at the same time strictly adhering to the Punjabi ethos. Its students have not only excelled in academics, but have also come out in flying colours in religious studies year after year.
Located on the bank of Upper Bari Doab Canal in Tugalwal village, this college was started in 1974 with just 14 students on 15 acres of land. The strength of the college has gone up to 4,000 since.