On the call given by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) comprising representatives of the Federation of Principals’ Association of Aided Colleges, the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) and the Non-Teaching Employees’ Union, rallies in protest against the ‘anti-education’ policies of the Punjab government were organised on Monday in various affiliated and government-aided private colleges across the state. There are more than 130 such colleges in Punjab.
Due to the strike, Panjab University, Punjabi University and Guru Nanak Dev University had to postpone their respective semester examinations which were scheduled for Monday. These will be held later.
The financial crisis which emerged out of the non-release of salary grants to colleges for the past 18 months brought all stakeholders on one forum. They have now decided to hold a joint stir for getting the grants released. At a meeting of the JAC held at Ludhiana on December 6, it was decided that the ongoing examinations being conducted by the three universities be boycotted on December 15 and 19 and gate rallies be held to protest against the unwarranted delay in the release of grants.
Addressing a rally at the local DAV College, PCCTU state general secretary Harpal Singh Walia said the higher education system had collapsed due to the financial crunch resulting from the non-release of grants meant for the payment of salaries under the 95% grant-in-aid scheme. As a result, the colleges and their employees have been trapped in a vicious cycle of debt and about 75% of the colleges are on the brink of closure, he added.
He added that the ban imposed on the recruitment of employees since June 2005 had already financially weakened the aided colleges. Moreover, the state government had never given grants meant for upgrading infrastructure in colleges, Walia said.
Representatives of principals, teaching and non-teaching employees had met the chief minister, deputy chief minister and education minister several times regarding the pending grants meant for the payment of salaries, but in vain, he added. So, they had been constrained to give a call for the boycott of examinations.
Walia said the JAC had decided to educate students regarding the ‘anti-higher education’ policy of the government as these policies would lead to a significant increase in the fee structure.
Dr Rajesh Kumar, principal of DAV College, also addressed the rally and said if the state government was sincere to save higher education system in the state, the pending grants should be released immediately. The state general secretary of the Non-Teaching Union, Rajiv Sharma, appealed to the chief minister to fulfil his promises by releasing grants immediately.