Justice be extended to those who had suffered for higher education
- Honesty is the best policy -

L Randhoni Devi *

University Grants Commission UGC Logo

The genuine smiling face of the young, dynamic and vibrant education minister commenting as "RUSA our ASHA" in an audience with the representatives of our fraternity gave us a new ray of hope and visualize a better condition of higher education in Manipur both in quantity and quality. The vibrant education minister assured us on many issues like solving pending problems of government college teachers, regularization of part time teachers, and implementation of 6th UGC ROP to the teachers of government aided colleges with due weightage of increasing faculty and infrastructures etc when RUSA: Rashtriya ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan is implemented in the state. We were very happy to hear all those words and still vibrating in our heads and hearts.

On one memorable instant, on 28th February 2013, when Prof Asok Barman, the General Secretary of AIFUCTO had an audience with our honourable EM, that smiling face lit up warmly and expressed heartily that the government college teachers will be extended their age of superannuation to 65 years as per UGC norms. When we expressed our concern on the matter of part time teachers serving more than 15 years and that of guest lecturers with respect to their share of works and contributions in higher education and he even expressed that their issues will be put up in the cabinet today itself.

As a member of CABE (Central Advisory Board of Education), he was enthusiastic about the new scheme of RUSA from which our resource crunch state may utilize to improve higher education in all respects and added that it will help in improving government aided and private colleges of the state also. Our general secretary promptly replied that he also had been in a meeting convened by NUEPA (National University of Education, Planning and Administration) and AIFUCTO suggested 100% funding of RUSA in the NE+JK; but settled at centre state matching of (90:10) for these special category states as education is in the concurrent list and for other states (65:35) matching. On that day the age of superannuation of government college and government polytechnic teachers were extended to 65 years.

The vision of our EM is followed with a prompt mission and our state became one of the forerunners in the implementation of the scheme of RUSA.

We have altogether 78 higher education institutions including 28 government colleges, 12 (6+6) government aided colleges, 20 private colleges respectively. The roles played by the government aided colleges in the higher education sector are very important and vital. During 1979-80, these colleges were set up to provide higher education to those needy persons by the philanthropists to provide higher education in their locality in the interest of the community and that of the youths who couldn't get their admissions in the government colleges due to limited seats, faculties and infrastructures.

The stark reality of these colleges came to realize only when All Manipur Government Aided College Teachers' Association (AMGACTA) leadership appraised the All India Federation of University & College Teachers' Organization with a copy to the Zonal Secretary (North East). The association urged to extend help from AIFUCTO in solving the issues faced by them for a long period of 34 years and the commitments made by the government without any positive action so far.

After going through all those documents submitted by the association, it is very frustrating to know the fact that these colleges, six of them, namely:
1. Thambal Marik College, Oinam
2. Liberal College, Luwangsangbam
3. Kakching Khunou College, Kakching Khunou
4. Standard College, Kongba
5. Biramangol College, Sawombung and
6. Mayai Lambi College, Yumnam Huidrom
spread at different districts and in different remote areas where there is no other colleges had been serving the higher education sector and all of them are affiliated to Manipur University and included under Section 2(f) and 12(B) of University Grants Commission (UGC) Act 1956 a long back.

Acknowledging the services rendered by these colleges, the government had upgraded to Government Aided status in 1987 with only 99 posts sanctioned out of 541 required posts in different streams (one for each department only) in the undergraduate level and the salaries paid to the sanctioned posts are sharing with other faculty members at a very low amount of Rs 2000-5000 per month as when sanctioned by the government in an irregular manner.

These colleges have adequate infrastructures and the enrolment in the academic session 2013-14 is 10, 852 and that in 2014-15 is 16,122(nearly 2700 per college); while that in the 28 government colleges for the present session is 28,750(nearly 1000 per college) and comparatively, these colleges have larger enrolment even than the government colleges. The newly converted six Aided Colleges (in 2013 only) have an enrolment of 5270 students and figuratively nearly one-third of the first six Aided Colleges and stipulating that they will also be improved in the near future.

It is worth to mention the fact that, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of our state is above par the national GER and every person in the state has the will to educate their children at any cost. While the country is trying to reach GER of (25-30) % of youths between 17-22 years of age by 2020 with utmost emphasis in the XII Plan, our state has already gone to 36% and aided colleges are contributing a lion's share in this respect. However there is a doubt in the quality of higher education, which needs the will of stakeholders particularly that of our government.

Unfortunately, the teachers of these colleges are still at 5th ROP of UGC and recently their age of superannuation has been extended to 65 years at par with that of government college teachers. The salaries of the teachers are not given as per 6th ROP of UGC and the Hon'ble Minister of Education has given assurance in the Assembly floor to take up all necessary steps to improve these colleges and to convert into action the other pending six points agenda in the next and added that the aided colleges are covered under RUSA scheme as a reply to the query raised by the Hon'ble MLA Dr. I. Ibohanbi Singh and we are all expecting the same in the near future.

In spite of many representations, agreements and MoUs as far back as 25-5-1993, the government fails to fulfill the commitments given in all the instances. It is worth to mention the fact that all other neighbouring states like Mizoram and Meghalaya had extended 6th UGC ROP to their deficit colleges from 1-1-2006 at the time of implementation of UGC Regulations 2010 in these states.

Another important case to mention in this regard is that of implementation of "THE ASSAM COLLEGE EMPLOYEES (PROVINCIALISATION) ACT, 2005" published in the Assam Gazette Extraordinary on 23rd December 2005. Under this Act, the number of provincialised colleges raised to 324 (previously 189 and recently 135) and the responsibility of the improvement faculty improvement are taken over by the government of Assam.

The salient feature may be read as:

Clause 2(f): "Provicialisation" means taking the liabilities for payment of salaries including dearness allowance, medical allowance and such other allowances as admissible to the government employees of similar category and gratuity, pension, leave encashment, etc. as admissible, under the existing rules, to the employees of the State Government serving under the Government of Assam.

Clause 4: After coming into force of this Act the colleges provincialised under this Act shall be known as the Assam Provincialised Colleges as distinct from the Government Colleges in Assam.

Clause 6 for appointment to the posts of faculty and other staffs has a clear cut appointment rules and clause 7 for pension has given the same facility at par with other government employees.

Observing all these facts and comparing the issues faced by aided college teachers in spite of a number of Agreements, Memoranda of Understandings (as listed separately) and over and above the Cabinet Decisions on the matter, it is felt that justice be extended to the major stakeholders of higher education in the state with administrative and political honesty by framing a permanent regulation to streamline all issues of higher education in general and that of aided colleges in particular by constituting "Manipur State Higher Education Service" or any other suitable policy like that of Assam referred herewith in consultation with all stakeholders: Honesty is the Best Policy.

Lists of important dates of MoUs, agreements etc.

1. 5-5-1993

2. 6-6-1993

3. 30-11-1999

4. 1-10-1999

5. 5-12-2000

6. 13-9-2006

* L Randhoni Devi wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Zonal Secretary (NE), AIFUCTO and can be reached at lrandhoni(at)gmali(dot)com
This article was posted on January 10, 2015.

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