Several Calcutta University colleges run in 3 shifts and need more funds to implement NEP 2020 recommendations, say principals.
Pritha Roy Choudhury | April 19, 2023 | 06:22 PM IST
NEW DELHI: Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose College in Kolkata, will need at least 15 more classrooms than it has to start offering the four-year undergraduate programme that the National Education Policy (NEP 2020) recommended and the University Grants Commission requires.
“The first three years we will be able to take care of a vocational course, but in the fourth year, we will need one classroom extra per subject,” said Purna Chandra Maity, principal, Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose College and president of West Bengal Principals’ Council. “In my college, I require at least 15 more classrooms.”
The situation is worse still in colleges running in multiple shifts. Surendranath College, Bangabasi College, City College – all run in three shifts – and will struggle to accommodate students if another year is added as that will raise the total undergraduate roll-strength by a third.
West Bengal’s adoption of the NEP 2020 was much delayed and its Trinamool Congress government had said in 2022 that it would frame its own state policy. The decision to adopt the central NEP was announced in March and caught its institutions unawares. The department of higher education met VCs of West Bengal universities and in March itself, the state government formed a panel to guide the new education policy’s implementation from 2023-24. The new academic session begins in July.
The four-year undergraduate programme is a key reform in NEP 2020 and most colleges are not prepared to handle the increase in student strength or other curricular reforms rolled into it. Most colleges have neither infrastructure nor funds for the expansion.
On April 10, 2023 Calcutta University leaders had met with college principals to discuss the implementation of the four-year undergraduate programme in colleges. Principals from 150 colleges attended the meeting. Sital Prasad Chattopadhyay, principal, City College, Kolkata, said: “We cannot just start a programme, it requires serious discussions. Just for the sake of starting, any college can, but carrying that forward effectively requires serious discussions and preparation.”
He said the heads of many institutions had raised concerns at the Calcutta University meeting. There was confusion about the choice of subjects to be offered and the syllabus to be followed.
In the meeting, the principals of a number of colleges had also requested CU’s interim vice-chancellor, Asis Kumar Chattopadhyay, to seek funds from the state government or from the UGC to set up infrastructure. Even if those resources were to arrive, time to prepare is short. Many colleges run in single buildings.
College heads said that they were given barely any time for serious discussions to address issues that the colleges might face.
“In most of these colleges, there are very few teachers, so where do we get the additional teachers from? Previously we used to take the help of guest lecturers. Now we don't have guest lecturers,” said Maity.
Recruitment of guest lecturers in the state without prior permission from the state higher education department has been stopped since 2020. “If we have to offer the programme from the present academic session, then we need teachers immediately,” he added.
“If we start a new course or programme then we also need to have good teachers to teach the students,” added Chattopadhyay.
Since most colleges offer undergraduate programmes in three shifts, they fail to stick to the mandatory seven hours of classes a day. Apart from teachers, these colleges are also short of non-teaching staff required for administrative functions.
“College hours are low and not everyone can maintain the required seven hours. This is a problem along with space issues. In all the colleges, there are shortages of non-teaching staff,” said Satya Upadhyay, principal of Calcutta Girls College, but added, “There are issues and problems but we are ready to start the FYUP as soon as we get the direction from the West Bengal higher education department.”
To get in touch, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.