Odisha dissolves college governing councils headed by politicians
The higher education department announced in a notification that the governing bodies or managing committees of all non-government aided degree colleges have been dissolved except autonomous colleges and colleges established by minority communities.Updated: Jan 25, 2020 10:17 IST
The Odisha government on Friday dissolved the governing bodies of all non-government degree colleges that are getting grants from the higher education department in a bid to free the educational institutes from the influence of politicians.
The higher education department announced in a notification that the governing bodies or managing committees of all non-government aided degree colleges have been dissolved except autonomous colleges and colleges established by minority communities.
The additional district magistrate or the sub-collectors of the districts concerned will now act as the presidents of these governing bodies.
Odisha’s higher education minister Arun Sahoo said the state government will appoint educationists or academicians as the presidents of these governing bodies to oversee their day-to-day academic activities.
“We have decided not to keep local MLAs (members of legislative assembly) in government bodies as they are too busy and they may not be able to give time to colleges,” he said.
The move to dissolve these bodies came following allegations that local MLAs used to recommend transfers and postings of lecturers in such colleges. They allegedly ran the colleges like their fiefdoms appointing and sacking teachers at their whim.
Officials in the state’s higher education department said the move was a part of suggestions from the World Bank that is funding a project named Odisha Higher Education Program for Excellence and Equity.
The higher education system in Odisha faces several challenges.
Odisha’s per capita expenditure on higher education for the population aged between 18 and 23 years is Rs 2700 compared to the national average of Rs 3865.
The state spends about 0.5% of its GSDP on higher education which is grossly inadequate to support the expanding the higher education system in the state.
Also, the general enrolment ratio is 17.5% compared to the national average of 23.6%.
Educationist Pritish Acharya welcomed the move, saying such an order would stem the rot in the colleges.
“The colleges need to be run by educationists and not politicians. The standard of education in our colleges have gone down over the last two decades,” said Acharya.
However, state labour minister Sushant Singh said a politician may not necessarily be the president, but they should be in the governing bodies to supervise the developmental activities of the colleges.
Former finance minister and Congress leader Panchanan Kanungo also questioned the move asking how the government officials would find time from their busy schedule to look after the college management.
“This order is basically to deny any autonomy to the colleges. Do we have so many educationists available in all the villages and towns to head such governing bodies,” he asked.
The process of politicians heading governing bodies of colleges in Odisha started in the 70s when new colleges sprung up with political patronage.
Over a period, these colleges started getting government aid for the payment of teachers’ salary as well as the management of the college.