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Unceasing unrest in HPU, who must take the batten and restore order?

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hpu campus violence

hpu campus violence

Following prevalent condition in the State University somewhat closely, I have been pulled by curiosity to learn who is actually interested in using the university for the purpose it is instated.

Is it a student body, led by some able young minds depicting leadership potentials; the Vice Chancellor in-charge playing hide-and-seek, or the Congress-led government in the state that seems least interested in instating order?
Compulsive stand of the VC over fee hike and calling off the elections for SCA has hit the students in the University most adversely. And rightly so; there are so many things that seem wrong with the decision, which is being uncompromisingly supported by the Government.

Click to Read What Happened at HPU Campus,Yesterday/View 25 Pics

Staying conservative in approach, and timidly vocal, students walk the corridors of the University in search of their classes; classes which are devoid of students and teachers.

The University is badly off course, scholars have taken to the streets protesting against the inappropriate decision of fee hike; but there is no management concern since the last 20 odd days.

Watch What Happened at HPU Campus:

Media is in a good position to show things at face value. The condition in this case is shady. Media has been speaking a biased tone, and education is suffering big time.

Irrespective of how things are unfolding, and what neutral eyes witnessing the scene may observe; mainstream newspapers such as the Amar Ujaala are taking this as an opportunity to earn brownie points. Biased journalism seems riding above ethical journalism and manipulated facts are being served to the public for breakfast.

Opinion contributed by: Bharat Sharma, Shimla

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 7 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture world around him in his DSLR lens.

Campus Watch

Nauni Varsity’s Apiculture Centre Judged as India’s Best Research Center, Bags Award

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Nauni Varsity’s Apiculture Centre bags award

Solan: The apiculture research centre of the Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni, has again bagged the ‘Best Research Center (2016-18)’ award. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) confers the award every year.  This is the second year in a row that the centre has bagged this award.

 University’s Department of Entomology runs the Solan centre of the All India Coordinated Research Project on Honeybees and Pollinators AICRP (HB&P).

Scientists from 27 AICRP centres from across the country participated in the meet and presented their work. Three scientists from the UHF centre; Dr Harish Kumar Sharma, Dr Kiran Rana and Dr Meena Thakur also attended the meeting.

The Principal Investigator Dr Harish Sharma said that the centre is engaged in research in diversified aspects of apiculture including managed honeybee pollination, bee botany, bee breeding, honeybee disease identification and their management, and standardization of technology for hive products.

This is the only centre in the country where bumblebee rearing and its utilization in protected cultivation has been standardized.

he said.

Elaborating on the work done by the entomology department of the university, HOD Dr Divender Gupta told that the centre has been working for the overall upliftment of apiculture in the state with special emphasis on pollination management.

In addition, the centre has been providing specialized training on queen breeding and bee breeding to beekeepers from across the country including the north-east. 

In order to establish bee breeders, the scientists have been providing technical backup for production of quality queens for increasing honey production and pollination efficiency,

he added.

The award was given at the Biennial Group Meeting of AICRP (HB&P) organized by ICAR at the School of Agricultural Sciences and Rural Development, Nagaland University last week.

Dr PK Chakravarti, ADG ICAR conferred the award at the plenary session of the workshop in the presence of eminent apiculturist and former national coordinators of the AICRP (HB&P) Dr RK Thakur and Dr RC Mishra. Dr RK Thakur, who is currently serving as the Joint Director (Communication) at UHF also delivered the lead lecture during the event.

UHF VC Dr HC Sharma and Dean College of Horticulture Dr Rakesh Gupta congratulated the whole team for bringing laurels to the university.

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Campus Watch

Involve Modern Technology in Agriculture to Make it Respectable Profession Among Youth : UHF VC

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bimonthly NABARD DDM Meeting at UHF Nauni

Solan: The sixth bi-monthly meeting of the District Development Managers (DDM) of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) began today at the Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni.

The Punjab Regional Office of the bank in association with the Directorate of Extension Education of the university organized the meeting.

Twenty-five DDM from Punjab attended the two-day meet and learnt about the possibilities of horticulture in their state from the university scientists. The meeting is part of the bank’s initiative to expose their officers to the advancements and opportunities in horticulture and allied disciplines so that they can promote the schemes associated with it among farmers.

During the meet, the university scientists will be addressing the participants on various topics and apprise them on the various activities being done by the university.

Dr Hari Sharma, UHF Vice-Chancellor; Dr Vijay Singh Thakur, Director Extension Education; JPS Bindra, CGM, Mithleshwar Jha, DGM along with the university scientists attended the inaugural session of the meeting.

Speaking on the occasion, JPS Bindra explained the working of NABARD and the role played by DDMs as the grassroots functionaries. While stressing on the need for diversification of agriculture, he said that area under horticulture and forestry in Punjab is quite less. Dr Vijay Singh Thakur, Director of Extension Education lauded the role played by NABARD in the upliftment of agriculture and infrastructural development. Dr Thakur was the view that there was a need to focus on the production of good quality food items.

Calling for making agriculture a respectable profession among the people especially the youth, Dr HC Sharma emphasized on involving modern technology to effectively communicate with the farmers. He said that there was a need for policy interventions for the planned utilization of agriculture produce for consumption and processing.  

He said that bank through its field officers should play a larger role in promoting simple interventions like solar drying of excess food produce and focus on producing export quality food products. Dr Sharma added that more efforts were required for the promotion of water conservation methods and maximizing the water use efficiency through modern farming technologies.

As part of the meeting, the delegates also attended technical lectures on hi-tech floriculture, natural farming and beekeeping and also visited the fields of the university.

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Campus Watch

Parents Protest Loot by Himachal’s Private Schools, Education Minister Advises Sending Children to Govt Schools

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Loot by Private Schools in Himachal Pradesh 2

Shimla- Levying of hefty fee by private schools in Himachal Pradesh continues despite instructions by the Supreme Court, State High Court and MHRD Ministry. The assurances of the State Government to regulate private schools has also proved insignificant. Parents allege that after court orders to remove the building fund and the admission fee, the schools have only changed the methods of fleecing them with exorbitant fees.

Now, their free booklets have removed the colums of building fund and admission fee and replaced them with annual charges, tuition fee, smart-classroom charges, SMS service charges etc. They have not only adjusted the previously charged funds under new columns but also hiked the total charges, parents alleged.     

Distressed parents have organized under the banner of Parent-Student forum and are again out on the roads to protest against private schools and incapability of the government to take appropriate action. They are asking the government to regulate private schools and make them accountable and responsible. Three main demands of the parents include regulation of fee structure, syllabus, and admission process.

Video

On March 11, 2019, parents gathered outside the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Shimla, to hold a protest. On March 13, the forum staged another protest outside the Directorate of Higher Education. The protests are likely to continue until the government addresses the issue, suggested the convenor of the forum, Vijender Mehra.

Parents complained that schools did not consult them before implementing fee hikes for the current session. They also alleged that schools flaunted all regulations while doing so. After extracting hefty fees, some schools were charging an additional Rs. 35-40 in the name of tours, parents alleged. If that was not enough to burden the parents, the schools charge money for their events too, the convenor of the forum said.

My son was in the second class last year, and I paid about 50,000 to the school as various fees. This year, I will have to pay more,

a father told Himachal Watcher on the condition of anonymity.    

Schools have imposed compulsions on parents regarding purchase of books and uniforms. Parents are strictly ordered to buy them from shops selected by schools, where books and uniforms are sold at thrice or four times the normal cost, the convenor said.

Vendors selected by schools set stalls inside the campus and parents must buy books from these vendors. It’s a strict instruction given by the school. These vendors sell books at a higher price as parents are rendered helpless by the school,

said another parent on the condition of not mentioning the name of the school.

Schools tie up with these vendors and fetch fat commissions from them every year on the sale of stationary and uniforms, the parents allege.

If the number of students enrolled in these schools is considered, then they are earning almost over Rs.6 crores per year. Including the commissions from books and uniforms, this amount increases to almost Rs. 7 crore. Their expenditure including salaries of teachers doesn’t exceed Rs. 3 crores. Rest of the amount is their surplus,

the convenor of the forum said.

Himachal Watcher talked to some parents of children enrolled in various private schools in Shimla. It turned out that Rs. 30,000 – 50,000 per annum is a common amount for the majority of schools. For reputed ones, this cost reaches upto Rs. 60, 000.

I have two sons enrolled a reputed private school in Shimla. Elder one is in class II and younger one is in LKG. Last year, I paid about Rs. 90,000 as their fee,

a mother – resident of Summerhill- told HW.  

The schools justify annual hike and hefty charges saying that they are fully self-funded. To hike salaries of teachers, the fees are also hiked every year, non-funded private schools argue.

According to Right to Education (RTE), all private schools are supposed to reserve 25 percent of the seats for children hailing from economically weaker sections. In 2014, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had also issued fresh guidelines to private schools. The parents alleged that schools are not following these rules. The government, they alleged, is behaving like a mute spectator.

It is seen that MLAs, bureaucrats, leaders of the ruling, as well as the opposition, enroll their children in reputed private institutes because they don’t believe in the quality of education and facilities provided in government institutes. While middle class parents also dodge the government institutions because they have begun to find consolation in the fact that their children are at least receiving the best possible education they can afford to secure their future, which government schools cannot provide.

I won’t send my children to government schools because I want them to explore their full potential and develop their personalities. I want them to develop enough self-confidence and communication skills to face the modern, tough competitive world. Currently, government schools are just not able to offer much to children,

said a father of two and resident of New Shimla.

What Does Education Minister Says?

The Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj, in response to these protest, told media that he is well aware of this loot. His advice to parents was to send their children to Government schools. As per the Minister, the Government schools are tip-top and quality of education is at par with private schools.

Since assuming the office, the Education Minister was reluctant to accept that a decline in enrollments in government schools is a result of the degrading quality of education. As per his statement in February 2019, parents send their children to private schools for it has become a status symbol. He also claimed that introducing pre-nursery classes in about 390 government schools have resulted in the additional enrollment of 40,000.  He also claimed that 99.7 percent of government schools have toilet facility and that 18 percent of the budget is being spent on education.    

It’s pertinent to mention that the HP Private Education Institutions (Regulation) Act does exist, but its hardly playing any role in regulating schools.

The school aren’t even following the instruction given by the Directorate of Higher Education to submit records of their annual charges for the session 2018-2019.

Other states have developed their own regulatory mechanism to deal with loot by private schools. For example, the State of Gujarat has the Self Financed Schools (Regulation of Fees) Act. It makes State Government competent of forming laws for state boards, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE). 

However, it appears that the Government in Himachal is trying to delay forming and implementing any such regulatory law.

Parents also question the government’s disinterest in the implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

Moreover, irrespective of political parties in power, private schools are hardly audited.

In January 2018, right after coming into power, the Education Minister had assured the people that a policy would be introduced to check arbitrary fee structures of private schools in the State. The laws formed by other states to prevent private schools from exploiting parents financially would be studied, he had said. He had also said that very soon these schools would be brought under the Regulatory Commission.   

In March 2019, the Education Minister has again given an assurance that the Government would make provisions to regulate private schools.  The Government did not mention any deadline or estimated time it would take to frame laws and implement them. Meanwhile, schools have already begun extorting this year’s fees.

The parents also said that they would be meeting the Education Minister during the current week with their plea. The parents have warned the government of more such protests if no action was taken to tighten the noose around these schools.

What Does Law Say?

Operation of private schools and commercialisation of education has long been a matter of litigation across the country. The Supreme Court in December 2018 had ordered a 20 per cent decrease in fees charged by upscale private schools. The schools were ordered to return half the fees they had charged for summer vacations. This order was applicable across the country whose fees were in excess of Rs 5, 000.

The apex court had also ordered that private schools can only increase their fee by five percent each year.

Before it, cases like Islamic Academy of Education versus State of Karnataka (2003) and Modern School versus Union of India (2004) have clearly stated that educational institutions should be allowed to make only ‘reasonable surplus’. The schools were expected to use this profit to provide better facilities and not for profiteering by the school management.

Apparently, the welfare of society lies in putting a check on the commercialisation of education. Good education lies at the foundation of a strong, healthy democracy. At least, education must not be put on sale.

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