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Shimla Law University Student Protest: Support Pours in From Other Varsities, Students Organizations After Authority Orders Vacating Hostels & Withdraws Basic Facilities

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HPNLU Student Protest in Shimla

Shimla– The student protest at the Himachal Pradesh National Law University at Ghandal, Shimla, which had begun four days ago, has been now fuelled by a harsh step taken by the varsity authority as a means to force the students to surrender. The varsity on September 18, 2019, issued a notification in which it was stated that the University would remain closed till 25 September. The students alleged that they were ordered to vacate the hostels, the mess was closed, washrooms were locked, and drinking water facilities were withdrawn in a bid to force the students to end their protest.

Through the notice, the students were threatened that action would be taken against them if they did not vacate the hostel by September 20. Prior to it, on September 17, the varsity had threatened the students that any students participating in protest would be dealt with strictness.

HP National Law University Shimla Protest

Students After They Were Forced to Vacate Hostels

Now, the students were at the campus under the open sky with all their belongings stacked up in open. However, the students are not ready to surrender. Meanwhile, support is pouring in for the protesting HPNLU students from other National Law Universities as well as students organizations including the Student Federation of India and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. Both organizations have come in support of the students and condemned the dictatorial and undemocratic attitude adopted by the varsity authority to suppress the student protest. A warning was issued by both organizations that they will join the students in protest if the varsity continued with the same attitude.

ABVP today met the Education Minsiter Suresh Bhardwaj asking him to take note of the situation the HPNLU and to attend to the grievance of the students. 

HP National Law University Shimla Protest 2

It’s pertinent to mention that the students of HPNLU have been protesting over the lack of basic amenities including drinking water, hygienic and healthy food, electricity, library facility, lack of adequate transport facility etc. There is only one institutional bus for 400 students that operates in an overloaded condition. The students said the hostel rooms lack sufficient lighting and toilets and bathrooms are in dire need of repair. The contract of the mess was given to the same contractor despite the fact that varsity had promised to change the contractor. Balanced died is not provided as there is no provision of fruits, juices, milk, eggs etc., the students said.

The students also released pictures showing insects and pieces of scrubber found in the food they were being served in the mess. They also alleged that students were falling ill due to unhygienic food.

HP National Law University Shimla Protest 8

The students said they are being charged a hefty fee of Rs. 2.50 lakh per annum, which is about Rs 5 lakh for the NRI students. Despite charging fees for various facilities, minimal facilities are being delivered.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Hygiene? After paying a hefty amount of ₹30k in a state run institution. This is how cutlery and hygiene is taken care of. Hats off to the immunity of the students. #insaafhpnlu2

A post shared by INSAAF HPNLU 2 (@insaafhpnlu2) on

Students further highlighted that despite UGC guidelines that states that there should be on campus 24×7 medical facility at higher educational institutes, there is no medical facility such as a Medical Centre for the students at the HPNLU. Even in case of emergencies, the students rely on external transport to reach the Community Health Centre, Dhami. A Bolero vehicle is being used as an ambulance, but it lacks equipment and facilities of an emergency vehicle. The vehicle doesn’t even have a stretcher or first aid kit, the students said. 

The students also said that the library timings are not adequate to meet the rigorous demand of a law institute. The number of books on each subject is very limited, which makes them unavailable for the majority of the students.

HP National Law University Shimla Protest 7

The students also alleged that the varsity has made it mandatory for students to submit various projects and assignments on fixed dates, however, failed to provide the means to accomplish these  tasks as there is no proper computer lab and no qualified IT professional.

The campus lacks Wi-Fi facility while the students were charged fees for the same.

There are several other facilities that the students alleged are lacking like organizations of moot courts, guest lectures by eminent jurists, lawyers, workshops for debates, student exchange program, internships, seminars and conferences etc.

Further, the students are demanding that subjects should be allocated to teachers based on their specialization.

Moreover, the students said there is no transparency in the working of the administration and the varsity was also not allowing students to elect a student body that could represent them.

“It all started with the students at HPNLU, Shimla, trying to have a peaceful and productive interaction with the VC, Prof. Nishtha Jaswal, to lend an ear to their grievances. But the VC didn’t even consider paying heed to the grievances of students,”

said a representative of the protesting students

“When a student put forth the issue of the fee hike, the VC responded by saying that students with unsound financial background must refrain from taking admissions in expensive universities like HPNLU, Shimla, and should opt for a traditional law university instead,”

the representative further added.

“There were no steady solutions for the grievances and all the humble requests went in vain. With the adamant attitude of administration and with this response from the VC, the students were left with no choice but to launch a peaceful protest against the administration, which began the next day on September 17, 2019,”

the representative further said.

“The students submitted a draft to the VC stating their grievances. After several hours of protest the VC finally showed up but instead of addressing the grievances the VC asked students to call off the protest,”

the representative said.

“While leaving the VC stated, “keep sitting; the university will be closed.” The students stayed at the university the whole night in cold weather,”

the representative said.

Further, the students said that when the next day representatives met the Chancellor, the request of the students was bluntly declined. When students put forth a request for transparency in the fees, the respected Chancellor dodged the question by saying that fee bifurcation will empower the students to move to consumer courts leading to “added problems” for the administration, the students said.

The Vice-Chancellor, on the other hand, washed her hands off blaming the government of providing insufficient funds. She clearly said that no facilities can be provided unless the government does not release more funds. The VC denied the allegations of the students that they were not receiving good food and other facilities. As per the VC, everything was fine at the campus. Rather, she said, the situation was better than before. She denied allegations regarding unhygienic and unbalanced diets saying that same food is served to the staff too.

She also said that the administration had talked to the students and the students were satisfied. However, the students alleged that they never received any satisfactory response from the varsity administration, which compelled them to launch this protest.

Contradicting, its own notification issued on September 18, by Friday evening, the varsity issued a clarification in which it refuted the all allegations regarding withdrawing of facilities like toilets and orders to vaccate hostels. The varsity said the mess is also running and hostels were also open. 

Clarification Issued by HPNLU on September 20, 2019

Campus Watch

Govt Prepares Alternative Academic Calendar to Compensate Loss in Education Sector, No Decision on Opening Schools Till May 3

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HP Govt Decision on Opening schools after may 3

Shimla-Education of students, especially in schools, is also hit by COVID-19 pandemic. Like several other sectors, the education sector is faced with a problem it never before came face to face.

In this regard, Union Minister for Human Resource Development (HRD) Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank presided over a video conference meeting with Education Ministers and Secretaries of School Education Department of all states and Union Territories to discuss various issues pertaining to the education sector in the country in the wake of coronavirus.

Education Ministers of 22 States and secretaries from 14 States and Union Territories attended the conference. Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy Smt Anita Karwal and senior officials of the Ministry participated in the meeting.

Pokhriyal said that whole efforts should be that our 33 crore students do not face any difficulty and can continue their education. For this, various efforts are being made to strengthen the online education platforms like DIKSHA, Swayam, SwayamPrabha, Vidyadaan 2.0, E-Pathshala, Educational TV Channel of Doordarshan, DishTV, Tata Sky, Jio, Airtel DTH etc. The Minister also said that apart from this, an alternative academic calendar has also been released by NCERT which states can adopt according to their local situation. Also, we have to prepare safety guidelines in case of opening of schools.

Mid-day meal scheme has also been continued during the summer vacation for students. Doordarshan is providing education curriculum content through various programmes with DTH services on 33 channels.

The Minister appealed to all the States to start the process of evaluation of answer sheets of Board exams and facilitate CBSE to evaluate answer sheets of the students in their respective States.       

Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj while interacting with Union Minister apprised that distance learning initiatives are being taken up by the department through the Internet and Doordarshan Himachal. Now, DD Himachal is also available on Airtel DTH at channel number 406. He said 66 percent students from elementary classes and 72 percent students from higher classes are on board in distance learning initiatives.

The Minister said that efforts are being made for reaching out to students through All India Radio. 

The HP Board of school examination has conducted exams for all papers of class 10th. A plan is being prepared for a few papers left of plus two standards.  The textbooks have been distributed to all and mid-day meal is also being distributed. The State government is also preparing post-lockdown strategies for the education sector.

He urged the Union Minister to approve four Kendriya Vidyalayas in the state. He also demanded the mid-day meal facility for pre-primary classes.

Rest, the decision over the opening of schools and other educational institute is likely to be taken during the next Cabinet meeting scheduled for May 2. Also, the Prime Minister would take decision on the lockdown and state government would wait for his address on May 3 before taking any big steps.

The lockdown is likely to continue with relaxations and implementation of exist-plans in the green zones.

Moreover, the opening of schools would require facilitating public transport. Therefore, the Transport Department would also have a say in this matter.

Secretary Akshay Sood, Director, Elementary Education Rohit Jamwal,  Director, Higher Education Dr. Amarjeet Sharma and other senior officers of the Education Department were also present in the meeting.

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HP Govt to Teach School Students via Doordarshan, Whatsapp, Website, Radio 

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HP Govt school to teach online and via doordarshan

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government today announced to launch the e-learning and teaching for 10th and 12th standard students of the state through Doordarshan. The online learning facility from home will be provided to students under Himachal Doordarshan Gyanshala programme from 17 April, 2020 onwards, it was informed.

 The education department has prepared programme according to the syllabus of HP School Education Board for 10th and 12th classes. The programme would be telecast from 17 April for three hours from 10 AM to 1 PM for different subjects as per the time table.

 The Government further informed that the ‘Learning from Home- Har Ghar Pathshala’, a home based teaching programme for the students from grades 9 to 12 is functional during the lockdown period of COVID-19.

 This programme would help the students to get access to online videos and worksheets from their homes on the Govt Website and Har Ghar Pathshala Website. This programme would start from 16 April, 2020 between 10 am to 1 pm daily till the regular opening of schools, informed the Government.

 Under this programme, the Government claimed, all the students would regularly receive daily videos and home work through WhatsApp groups with teachers on important topics.  Their homework would be regularly checked by the teachers and also provide feedback.

 Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj said that the education department is also planning to broadcast the study material on TV/Radio/FM to cater every student of the State.

 Secretary Information and Public Relations Rajneesh, Secretary Finance Akshay Sood, Special Secretary Education Hemraj Bairwa, Director Higher Education Dr Amarjeet Sharma, Director Information and Public Relations Harbans Singh Brascon and representatives of Doordarshan Shimla were present of the occasion.

 

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Campus Watch

Shimla’s Private Schools Forcing Parents to Pay Fees Amid Lockdown Despite Govt Directions to Extend Dates

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Private school fees in Shimla

Shimla-Already infamous for charging hefty fees of various sorts throughout the session, private schools in Shimla are still most concerned about their fees. The spread of COVID-19 and nationwide lockdown were not good enough reasons to refrain from compelling parents to submit fees from the beginning of the lockdown. Earlier, they were forcing parents to submit their fees by March 31st.  At that time, the government was still mulling over the period of relaxation in curfew and its frequency. On top of that, schools did not offer online service for depositing fees online, which implied that parents had to walk to the bank associated with the school.

Taking note of it, on March 27th, the Department of Higher Education directed the schools to stop forcing parents and extend the last date of depositing fees to April 30. The Education Minister also told the schools to facilitate parents during the lockdown and extend the last dates. But the administration has never been a deterrent for these schools. The schools continued to persuade parents to deposit fees despite the directions. Some parents accepted even violating lockdown to deposit fees.  

These schools claim they are taking online classes which included giving home-work and assignment through Whatsapp or some other apps. Now, some schools are experimenting with some applications that allow conducting online classes for a few hours.   

Now that the extension of the lockdown is almost inevitable, these schools again started to agitate parents for fees. They have been only asked to extend the date, not to exempt payment of fees. 

“Despite repeated reminders, some of the private school managements are forcing the parents of the students to deposit the school fees during countrywide lockdown/curfew in the state,”

the said a notification issued by the Directorate of Higher Education again on April 9.

“In view of the lockdown/curfew and the pandemic situation in the State the date of deposit of school fees of privately managed schools is hereby deferred till further orders and it is further directed not to force the parents of the ward to deposit the school fees during this period,”

the schools were further directed in the same notification.

The Department said it would take strict action against offenders. However, these schools are least worried about such directions because the students of government officials also study in these schools. On the other hand, the parents can’t come out to openly criticize the functioning of the school where their children are enrolled. Rest, the managements of private schools are well aware that the standard of education offered at the government schools leaves parents with no choice but to kneel in front of them. 

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