Sinhgad Institute teachers’ protest: Students plan protest demanding fees back over ‘unavailability’ of professors
With 5,000 teaching staff refusing to work due to non-clearance of their pending salaries, students now have no one to guide thempune Updated: Feb 08, 2018 15:49 IST
With the Sinhgad institutes’ management failing to pay even a part of their pending salary dues in the last week of January as promised, the faculty and non-teaching staff of nearly 100 institutes under the Sinhgad Technical Education Society (STES) has once against resorted to strikes and demonstrations.
The students of the institute have been extremely dejected with the impact of the protests on their studies.
“It is utterly unfair to deny us education even after paying the full fees, which amounts to lakhs per student. We cannot blame the teachers because they have been very patient with the management and yet have dues piled up to 16 months. Therefore, we have started our own protest, in solidarity with the teachers, demanding our fees back,” said Prasad Karwa, 4th year BE IT student at Smt Kashibai Navale College of Engineering, Vadgaon.
He said it was outrageous that the institute could spend huge amounts on the Sinhgad annual festival and on international bands like the Chainsmokers, but could not pay their teachers. Caught in the crossfire between the staff and the management are the students who have been unable to attend classes even as their exams are fast approaching.
“We have paid our fees in full and don’t deserve to be denied education. Likewise, the teachers deserve their salaries for their hard work. The management should not treat the two most important stakeholders of an educational institution, the students and the teachers, in such a pathetic manner,” said Kriti Thete (name changed on request), a third-year student of the Sinhgad College of Pharmacy. “Classes have been suspended since the beginning of the semester. With our exams scheduled to be held in March, most of us are worried about our future. For the final year students, this is crucial as their placements depend on it. For now, most of us are studying by ourselves and the teachers are extremely supportive. Although we are not being taught in classes within the boundaries of the administration, they are helping us with our studies wherever necessary,” said Ratika Bhuwalka, another engineering student from Kashibai Navale College.
Pratap N Deshmukh, assistant professor at RMD Sinhgad School Of Engineering (RMDSSOE), said they did not want the students to suffer. He said while partial salaries were paid from October 2016 to September 2017, the entire salary of October and November is pending.
From October 2016 to September 2017, the institute has paid only the basic salary and the annual grade pay (AGP), which is 40% of the total salary. Further, full salaries from October to December 2017 and January 2018 are also yet to be paid.
A large gathering of almost 1,000 employees of Sinhgad Institutes gathered in front of the institute’s corporate office at Erandwane on Tuesday, wanting to meet the management. But the management turned a blind eye to their request yet again. The institutes have a total of 5,000 teaching and 3,000 non-teaching staff, a large number of whom have been observing the non-cooperation movement since 2016. In the first week of January, a management circular had assured the staff that payments would begin from January 24 in instalments. Following this assurance, the agitation was suspended and the teaching resumed classes, said Rohan Musale, assistant professor at SKN Sinhgad Institute of Technology and Science (SKNSITS), Lonavla.
Meet ‘Education Baron’ MN Navale
Hailing from an agrarian family at Sangola in Solapur district, Maruti Nivrutti Navale completed his engineering degree and joined Bharati Vidyapeeth as a professor. In 1992, he quit his job to start his own institute by taking over Sou Venutai Chavan Polytechnic at Phaltan.
This institute was not doing well and it was Navale who transformed it into an institute of repute, according to the Sinhgad Institutes’ website.
There was no looking back thereafter as Navale, along with his family members expanded the institute network in and around Pune, Navi Mumbai and Solapur.
As the educational conglomerate expanded, Navale involved his family members in the running of the institutes by appointing them to key positions. Presently, his son Rohit is Vice President (HR), daughter Rachana is Vice President (Administration) and wife Sunanda is Founder Secretary, Sinhgad Institutes.
Navale’s rise as one of the ‘education barons’ of Maharashtra has been as stunning as his present downfall. He single-handedly built STES expanding it into a conglomerate of 110 institutions with student population of 70,000 and teaching and non-teaching staff of 8000.