Kashmir's B.Ed Colleges no more attract students

The student enrolment in private B.Ed colleges in Kashmir has witnessed a steep decline after University Grants Commission (UGC) increased duration of the course from one to two years. Today, the enrolment in the Valley colleges has decreased from 2.50 lakh to mere 6000 students in less than five years. The institutions are failing to attract the students from outside states who would earlier fly to Kashmir in large number to pursue the course. “The students from outside state would prefer Valley colleges over their own institution as they would get their course completed in one year while as it was two year course in other states,” said an official in Kashmir University (KU). There are 74 private B.Ed colleges in Valley which have were established since mid-90s. These colleges would attract students from states like Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar and Rajasthan. It would in turn lead to flow of capital to the Valley as well. There was another advantage for non-local students to pursue the course in Valley colleges.

Outside, a student wishing should have a minimum of 50% marks in graduation but in the Valley the eligibility was only 40 percent. For SC and ST category students the percentage required was even less. However, the scenario altogether changed after 2015 after the duration of the course was increased as well. The outside students didn’t see any benefit in pursuing the course in Kashmir now. “Earlier it used to be huge business for owners of B.Ed colleges and government would allow an influential lot to set up the colleges. It used to bring Rs 100 crore to Kashmir economy annually. But the scale started going down in 2010 as the rates of admissions went down,” said one of the associates of B.Ed colleges. On an average a student would pay Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 as admission fee. “We had an approved intake capacity of 25,000 students which has decreased to 6000 now. Every state has B.Ed colleges but in Valley the sector has lost its sheen now,” said CL Vishen, President Kashmir Private B.Ed. Colleges’ Association. He said the economy got a blow as the students from outside states no longer prefer to pursue the course in Kashmir colleges. “The course (B.Ed) is mandatory to get a teaching job. It fetches additional points in one’s score card while applying for the job, but the students have lost the interest in this course,” he said. Lamenting the decline of the sector, Vishan, who is owner of Nund Reshi College of education, said the enrolment of his college has decreased from 450 to 40.

“This is the reality of the B.Ed colleges now. There was a time when our colleges would bloom with students’ but now it has completely declined,” he said. Vishan said his college has nine buildings. “Today my college is empty. Most of the colleges have fired the staff but I have somehow managed to take them along,” he said and hoped that the sector gets revived. In 2018, then education minister had announced that the B.Ed colleges will be allowed to introduce the under graduate courses in their institutions. The announcement was made to put the infrastructure in use at these institutes, which was lying defunct. “But the initiative remained confined to papers only. The Government is holding only meeting on this issue while as no concrete decision has been taken so far,” Vishan said. There has been a demand from all stakeholders to introduce more courses in existing colleges and allow private sector to grow at under graduate level as more than 10,000 students migrate to different outside states for pursuing various professional and academic courses. According to a rough estimate, the annual flight of capital on account of this migration is Rs 1200 crore. Dean college development council (DCDC) Kashmir University Prof Sangmi said the enrolment in some B.Ed colleges has decreased drastically which prompted the University to take an undertaking from management of such colleges that all facilities will be provided to the students. The fresh admission in the B.Ed colleges culminated in past week. “We called the authorities from these colleges and ensured that the students will be provided every facility in terms of academics and infrastructure,” Porf. Sangmi said, adding the admission in next session will be strictly done as per the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) guidelines.