Nothing technical about technical education in J&K

While 14 of 16 new polytechnic colleges have been barred from making fresh admissions, enrolment has come down from 64 to 35 percent in 4 years, forcing closure of three institutes; against intake capacity of 3505 students, only 1575 admissions in 2018

In an indictment of authorities in state technical education department, 14 of 18 new polytechnic colleges allotted to the state have been put under “No Admission” category by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

The decision has been taken as authorities have failed to complete establishment of permanent campuses of these institutes after approval to them by union human resource development ministry in 2010. As per an official document, these colleges were approved under centrally sponsored scheme – Coordinated Action on Skill Development. Of these 18 colleges, one college each is run by Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University (BGSBU) and Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) while as 16 other colleges are functioning under technical education department.

The document states that Rs 8 crore was sanctioned by government of India for carrying out civil works for the colleges while Rs 4.30 crore was sanctioned for procurement of machinery and other equipment for the colleges. Additionally, the state government had provided Rs 5 crore for establishment of these colleges. The department was allowed by AICTE to start the courses in these colleges from rented buildings for a period two years with a condition that these institutes should be shifted to permanent campuses within two years. As per the norms, if the department fails to shift an institute to permanent campus in third year, the AICTE reduces the admission intake capacity by 50 percent for the college. “And in case these colleges continue to function from rented accommodations for more than four years, then the institutes are placed under ‘No Admission’ category by AICTE,” reveals the documents. As of now, seven polytechnic colleges have been shifted to permanent campuses but AICTE has placed them as well under No Admission Category because, apart from 11 other colleges, they too have been found having deficiencies in construction.

“The buildings for these institutes have been completed but lack some facilities due to which they have been placed under No admission Category,” an official said. The director technical education J&K Anu Malhotra has now written to chairman AICTE, requesting to consider their plea to allow them start admission courses. The director has assured union authorities that they will overcome “minor deficiencies” before start of admission process for 2019-20. “Keeping in view ground conditions, a lenient view may be taken in case of J&K during approval process for 2019-20,” reads the letter addressed to Chairman AICTE. The colleges which have been shifted to permanent buildings but have been placed under No Admission Category are located in Budgam, Gandderbal, Kulgam, Reasi, Samba and Kathua while as construction work of eight colleges – Kupwara, Baramulla, Bandipora, Shopian, Ramban, Doda Kishtwar and Udhampur-  is under progress. “Work on Poonch polytechnic was stalled over these years due to dispute in award of contract. But now the issue stands resolved,” the official said. As per official documents, the executing agencies have been given a deadline to complete the construction of rest of college buildings by March 2019 while as work on other college buildings is expected to be completed by March 2020. But the AICTE has categorically told state authorities that no request for extension of time limit for shifting of institutions will be accepted for 2019-20.

“In order to get the extension approval for 2019-20, the matter must be taken up with the MHRD and AICTE on priority so that the issue is resolved well before the start of AICTE approval process for the session,” reads a letter submitted by director technical education department to secretary technical education department J&K. There are 31 polytechnic colleges- 7 private and 24 government colleges, including these new 18 polytechnic colleges, in the state, apart from two polytechnic colleges for women. The total intake capacity of these colleges is 5765 students- 2260 in private colleges, 3505 in government colleges and 360 in women colleges.

These colleges offer admissions in 20 different courses. However the admission in these polytechnics has shown a downslide over the past four years and has posed a challenge for the department to keep these institutes functional. The admission in these colleges has come down from 64.22 percent in 2014 to 35.77 percent in 2018. Against the intake capacity of 3505 students in government polytechnics only 2364 seats were filled in 2014 while as in 2018 only 1575 students approached for admission in these institutes. In wake of this downward trend three polytechnic colleges have already been closed in the state, two in Jammu and one in Kashmir.

Owing to this admission scenario the institutions are confronted with financial crises, taking a toll on quality of education. “In case of government polytechnic colleges, huge infrastructure in terms of buildings and machinery is being underutilized,” reads the official document, adding lack of awareness about diploma programs has also resulted in dwindling admission trend. “Non-popular programs offered in these colleges and non-availability of candidates in reserved category is also a reason for poor response to admission process in these institutes,” reads the communiqué.

Director technical education J&K said the department has proposed several measures to revamp the admission policy of polytechnic colleges and they were waiting for government response. “Yes, the admissions have decreased over the years and we have proposed some changes to infuse fresh energy in the system. But final decision has to be taken by government,” she said.