“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

INDIAN EXPRESS (November 30, 2007)

“Guess what is one of Valley’s biggest draws? B Ed colleges where degrees come easy “

Bashaarat Masood

Students from the Valley may be flying to Bangalore, Pune and Delhi for higher studies, but it has also become the favourite destination for many students from other states. Educationists in the state, however, are not amused.

Thousands of students from outside enrol themselves in colleges here that offer Bachelor’s Degree in Education. And while the number is swelling every year, the reason is also clear. The B Ed colleges here offer a one-year degree and. that too, while the students stay home for most of the period.

This is also perhaps one of the reasons why the Valley has only 30 degree colleges and 67 B Ed colleges.

Kashmir University Vice Chancellor Abdul Wahid Qureshi admits that there are problems with the B Ed colleges here. “This is an area of concern for us,” he said.

The mess in the B Ed colleges, affiliated to Kashmir University, came to the fore during an inquiry into a scam at the university. The report submitted termed the B Ed colleges as the “face of corruption” in higher education. However, since then the university has done little to clear the mess.

“B Ed colleges affiliated with the University of Kashmir are the worst examples of corruption and manipulation,” reads the report submitted by the inquiry committee early this year in the “Admission against Cash” scam.

The report had also suggested some corrective measures. “The colleges affiliated with the University in 2006 have fulfilled all the requirements for affiliation not by merit but by some mysterious help from certain elements,” it says. The report blamed the university administration for the mess saying the university had “extended the deadline for the B Ed colleges for development of infrastructure to benefit some of its blue-eyed businessmen in the Valley”.

The scandals that surfaced in Kashmir University in the recent times too hint towards the B Ed scam. The “Admission against Cash” scam in which the varsity terminated the services of Public Relations Officer Abid Hussain Musawy too is related to the B Ed admissions. A university inquiry revealed that Musawy had earned more than Rs 1 crore through the B Ed admissions. In fact, the whistleblower himself was a non-state subject from Rajasthan.

The Kashmir University, last year, affiliated 13 new B Ed colleges despite many of them not complying with the guidelines set by the university and necessary for affiliation of any B Ed college in the Valley. This year, four more B Ed colleges have been affiliated taking the total number to 67. The university guidelines make it mandatory for the colleges to have separate boys and girls hostels, a minimum of one acre of land, separate academic and administrative blocks, and well-equipped laboratories.

“Most of these colleges do not have hostels,” said a senior university professor. “The results are obvious. The non-state subject students are asked to pay the mess and hostel fee and are allowed to go back to their home states after completing their admission formalities. They attend a few classes and return only for the examinations.”

A non-state subject student pays over Rs 15,000 as hostel and mess fee even if he or she doesn’t avail the facility. More than 15,000 students — more than 80 per cent of them from outside — are enrolled with the 67 B Ed colleges here.

The Vice-Chancellor admitted that there were political pressures. “When I asked these colleges to submit fine, I received several calls from political figures asking me to re-consider the decision,” he said, adding that it included even a sitting J&K minister.