Story of a College

The year 1904 marks the beginning of my journey as St. Joseph’s Primary School. I was gradually upgraded to Degree College in 1943. But before I could blossom, I withered as I too fell prey to partition of the state and was closed for seven years, and then reopened in 1954. I was taken over by the State Government in 1963 and shifted to the present campus in 1967. It is from here that I started my journey afresh. It has been the “best of times; it has been the “worst of times”. But I never looked back and continued to progress in imparting education, encompassing academics, examination and co-curricular activities.

Over the years I have grown into a multidisciplinary institution of higher learning. I am running Post Graduate Courses in Mathematics, Psychology and Masters in Computer Sciences (MCA), besides a long range of Under Graduate Courses including Sciences, Commerce, BBA, Arts, Computer Science (BCA), Media Studies (both Vocational and Degree Courses), IT, Biotechnology and a host of other vocational courses. I have developed a beautiful landscape, exemplified play field, vast built up area for class rooms and laboratories, hostels, besides a rich and automated library. However, a host of problems, predominantly shortage of permanent teaching staff, primarily in the Post Graduate Departments, have been obstructing my performance in academic field thereby affecting the career of my students.

In accord with UGC norms I should have 13 permanent teachers in the PG Department of Mathematics (comprising PG Math, BG Math and Applied Math), but have only one permanent teacher. I should have nine permanent teachers for Psychology Department, but have only two and instead of 10 teachers required for MCA Department have only 04. My permanent local teaching and non-teaching staff is often transferred to newly established colleges at the cost of the career of my students.

I am the first College of the state having started Mass Communication and Video Production (MCVP) in 2002 and three year degree course in Mass Communication and Multimedia Production (MCMP) in 2004. I feel proud for a good number of pass-outs of these streams who secure honourable and rewarding jobs at national and international levels. Still waiting for the release of Rupees 5.87 Crore grant sanctioned by the Higher Education department in March 2015, I haven’t been able to construct the much needed separate media block.

Possession of piece of land measuring 13 kanals and 13 Marlas, acquired in 1968, that splits my Campus into two entities thus choking all plans to put in place the necessary supporting infrastructure needed to nurse my potential as an apex institution of learning, has not been transferred to me till date due to negligence of people at the helm of affairs.

The JK Armed Police have installed latrines and created temporary parking slot in the vicinity of two hostel blocks inside my Campus. And round the clock vehicular noise and the intense public movement around these installations disturb the hostellers and affect their studies.

The employees of the Sports Department are excessively miss-using the Indoor Sports Complex and the play field, that too without seeking proper permission. This has been vitiating my academic ambiance and destabilizing my respectability.

In-spite of all these impediments, I continue to progress in my academic pursuits. This has been recognized by national level academic auditing organizations. While NAAC Bangalore has accredited me with Grade “A”, UGC has conferred me the status of “College with Potential for Excellence”. I am also being granted “Autonomous Status” by the University Grants Commission New Delhi very soon.

It isin the backdrop of my landmark achievements, in spite of all these impediments, that I feel it obligatory to place on record the importance of academic leaders and inspiring approach of authorities necessary for successful implementation of National Education Policy 2020.

The National Education Policy 2020 envisions a complete overhaul and re-energising of the higher education system to deliver high-quality education, with equity and inclusion. The policy’s vision includes moving towards a higher educational system consisting of large multidisciplinary universities and colleges, faculty and institutional autonomy, reaffirming the integrity of faculty and institutional leadership positions through merit based appointments and career progress based on teaching, research, and service. The main thrust of this policy is to end the fragmentation of higher education by transforming these institutions into large multidisciplinary universities, colleges, and HEI clusters/ Knowledge Hubs each of which aim at having 3000 or more students.

The policy envisages a stage-wise mechanism for granting graded autonomy to colleges, through a transparent system of graded accreditation. Colleges will be encouraged, mentored, supported, and incentivised to gradually attain the minimum benchmarks required for each level of accreditation. All colleges currently affiliated to a university shall attain the required benchmarks over time to secure the prescribed benchmarks and eventually become autonomous degree-granting colleges. The Policy envisages motivated, energized and capable faculty and therefore emphasises to ensure that each faculty member is happy, enthusiastic, engaged, and motivated towards advancing his/her students, institution and profession. To this end, the policy recommends that all HEIs will be equipped with the basic infrastructure and facilities and every classroom shall have access to the latest educational technology that enables better learning experiences. Teaching duties also will not be excessive, and student-teacher ratio not too high, so that the activity of teaching remains pleasant and there is adequate time for interaction with students, conducting research, and other activities. Faculty will be appointed to individual institutions and generally not be transferable across institutions so that they may feel truly invested in, connected to, and committed to their institution and community.

Esteemed readers, may I venture to ask how much human and financial resources will be required to enable under-developed higher education institutions to secure the prescribed benchmarks and eventually become autonomous degree-granting colleges and implement the ambitious National Education Policy 2020? And having attained the prescribed benchmark to be granted “Autonomous Status” and implement National Education Policy 2020 successfully, don’t I deserve to be encouraged? It is in the backdrop of impediments blocking my progress that I appeal to the authorities to solve my below given problems and allow me to serve the society proficiently and effectively:

1) To provide permanent and qualified teaching and non-teaching staff in  accord with UGC norms and in the light of National  Education Policy 2020, and discontinue transferring my local staff in future.

2) To ensure the early release of grants sanctioned in 2015 for construction of

Media Block.

3) To transfer possession of land acquired in 1968.

4) To direct JKAP to vacate my hostel premises.

5) To issue directions to sports officials not to enter indoor sports complex  or the  sports field without my permission.

Prof Mohammad Ismail is former Principal, Baramulla College.