Over the past few years, the B.Ed colleges in Kashmir are slowly becoming irrelevant in the present scenario of education as the institutes have witnessed a steep decline in the student enrollment.
Few years ago, the B.Ed course was the most preferred choice of the students after completing their graduation. Majority of the students, who would not make their entry in Universities within J&K or outside, would land in B.Ed colleges to pursue the course.
Firstly, the students lost their interest in the course after the University Grants Commission (UGC) increased the duration of the course from one to two years.
At present, the enrolment in the Valley colleges has decreased from 2.50 lakh to less than 6000 students; this has happened in less than six years.
The B.Ed colleges in Kashmir would mostly attract the students from outside J&K for obvious reasons but post increase in the duration of the course, the institutions failed to attract the students from outside states who would earlier fly to Kashmir in large numbers to pursue the course.
Before 2017, the students from J&K preferred Valley colleges over their own institution as they would get their course completed in one year while it was a two year course in other states.
Notably, around 75 private B.Ed colleges were established in the Valley since the 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 into the Valley as well. There was another advantage for non-local students to pursue the course in Valley colleges.
Outside, a student wishing to pursue the course should have a minimum of 50 percent 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. Apparently, the outside students didn't see any benefit in pursuing the course in Kashmir after the duration of the course was increased from one to two years.
Offering admission for B.Ed courses used to be huge business for owners of B.Ed colleges in Kashmir and government would allow an influential lot to set up the Colleges as in the past most of the b.Ed colleges and ETT institute were set up by politicians and their relatives using their influence in the power corridors.
The business of private B.Ed colleges would bring Rs 100 crore to Kashmir economy annually but the it started going down in 2010 as the rates of admissions went down.
In the past, each student on an average would pay Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 as admission fee and the approved intake capacity of B.Ed colleges was around 25,000 students. However, the number has gone down to less than 6000 in the present scenario.
With the passage of time, this sector has lost its sheen due to which the economy has got a blow as the students within Valley and outside no longer prefer to pursue the course in Kashmir Colleges.
Though B.Ed course has been made mandatory to get a teaching job as it fetches additional points in one's score card while applying for job, the students have lost interest in this course. Another reason for decline in the student enrollment of B.Ed colleges is the lack of dearth of teaching jobs in the government sector. These days only those students apply for B.Ed courses who find a teaching job in private schools.
The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that out of 75 colleges only 55 B.Ed colleges are functional now. The average enrollment of the colleges is around 40 which earlier used to not less than 500 in each B.Ed College.
There was a time when B.Ed colleges would be full of students, but not any more. While some colleges have few students on the rolls, there are several colleges that are just empty. Most of the B.Ed colleges have fired the staff as well.
In 2018, the then education minister had announced that the B.Ed colleges will be allowed to introduce the undergraduate 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. It seems that the government is holding only meetings on this issue while no concrete decision has been taken in this regard.
There has been a demand from all stakeholders to introduce more courses in existing colleges and allow the private sector to grow at undergraduate 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.
It is also a fact that while the enrolment in some B.Ed colleges decreased drastically, it prompted the Kashmir University to take an undertaking from management of such colleges that all facilities will be provided to the students.
Notably, the National Council for Education and Training (NCTE) made it mandatory for all the private and government owned B.Ed colleges in J&K to obtain recognition from the council to keep the colleges functional.
The recognition is issued to the colleges after fulfilling certain criteria set by the NCTE for these colleges. Before August 2019, the NCTE recognition was not mandatory for B.Ed colleges of J&K but after that the colleges were regulated by NCTE for which they have to get their recognition to run the courses.
The NCTE has also decided to regulate the intake capacity of the B.Ed colleges where in each college is allowed to take only 100 students for the course.
The recognition of NCTE to B.Ed colleges will obviously grant an authentication to these institutes which will remove the apprehensions of any fraud or bungling in the admission process and the validity of the degree.
In the present scenario, the government needs to think of an out of box idea to revive these B.Ed college by allowing them to introduce the under graduate courses in these institutes which will help the private sector to flourish and stop the brain drain as students may prefer to pursue their undergraduate courses within Valley than going to the colleges outside J&K.
Amid the rising rate of unemployment, the revival of B.Ed colleges will provide job opportunities to the educated unemployed youth besides flourishing the economy.