Polytechnic enrolments fall as Govt fails to amend admission norms
The government’s failure in legislating a new law to improve the admission procedure for polytechnics in the State has not only led to the steep drop in enrolment but also left infrastructure worth crores defunct.
The enrolment in government and private polytechnic colleges has gone down by 39 percent in 2018 compared to 2017.
One of the reasons is that the Jammu and Kashmir Board of Professional Entrance Examination (JKBOPEE) completes the admission procedure in August while the aspiring students pass 10th and 12th standard examinations eight months earlier in January.
In 2014, the enrolment stood at 64 percent in the State while in 2018, the figure is 35 percent.
The polytechnic industry attributes the gap between admission process and the conclusion of 10th and 12th standard exams as the main reason behind dwindling enrolment numbers.
The Board of Technical Education has been ringing the bell asking the Technical Education department to allow them to conduct the entire exercise, which would have help bring down the declining enrolment figures.
“The procedure of admission in polytechnics through BOPEE should be dispensed and State BOTE should be allowed to take over the admission process and conduct online counseling on the basis of merit in qualifying exams - 10th standard,” reads BOTE’s letter sent to Technical Education department.
However, the demand of the BOTE and other stakeholders has failed to awaken the government from its hibernation, which till date has not paid heed to the demand.
As per the BOTE letter, the form filing starts in February, entrance exam is conducted in mid-April and the merit list is issued in mid-May followed by counseling of applicants up to the second week of July, leading to almost six months gap from the declaration of 10th standard results.
“Due to the reduced admissions compared to the total intake, the institutions are confronting financial crisis and are on verge of closure,” the BOTE letter states.
The entrance test for polytechnics is currently being conducted by BOPEE following the 1997 judgement of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court which upheld the 1993 Supreme Court judgement in J.P Unni Krishnan versus State of Andhra Pradesh case stating that a ‘Competent Authority’ would conduct a common entrance test on 50:50 basis for payment seats and free seats.
However, as per BOTE, the falling enrolment number is because the results for 10th standard exams in Kashmir division are announced in January and the candidates have to wait until August for admission in polytechnic colleges while in Jammu division, the results are announced in May and students are preparing for SSC exams.
“As such students are in a dilemma whether to apply for polytechnic entrance or not because notification of BOPEE is issued in the month of February and the last date to file applications is ending March,” the BOTE letter to Technical Education department reads.
Instead of addressing the issue, the previous Peoples Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janata Party government could not complete work on the new18 Polytechnic colleges announced during the previous National Conference-Congress government.
Currently, the State has 30 polytechnic colleges having a total capacity of 5765 students - 2260 in private colleges, 3505 in government colleges and 360 in women colleges.
BOTE has also been asking the government to allow them to conduct entrance examination because, under the present scheme of things, students from far-flung areas are allotted colleges in Srinagar, which in the end leads them to opt for the course, thus adding to the already swelling number of falling enrolments.
The Technical Education sector has also been facing acute shortage of permanent staff.
A proposal submitted for creating 720 academic posts for 18 new polytechnic colleges in 2012 has been lying in the Finance department while the contractual teachers are also awaiting regularization for over a decade now.
As per the sources, the Finance department has now refused to accord sanction for the creation of these posts citing huge financial implications.
The stakeholders fear that the new colleges would have to continue with less staff and that too contractual for the time being.
A contractual lecturer, wishing anonymity, said, “The permanent staff is only in the two polytechnics in Srinagar. All other polytechnics have contractual staff. Our regularisation case is now in its final stage but it has been over a decade now.”
Joint Director BOTE, Muhammad Shafi Bhat said the government had not yet amended the BOPEE Act under which they conduct the examination for the polytechnic sector.
“The government will have to issue a new SRO to hand over the responsibility to us,” Bhat said adding that the BOPEE issues notification for admission late for 10th standard students in Kashmir while in case of Jammu, they issue the notification when a 10th standard student is yet to take admission.
“Information Technology course is being offered in Kargil Polytechnic. How can a student from here go to Kargil to study? So they opt out,” Bhat said. “Less enrolment is also because of the fact that the sector isn’t providing many jobs to the students who complete the technical courses.”
As per official documents, around Rs 30 crore have been allocated for the 18 new colleges sanctioned in 2011 under the Coordinated Action and Skill Development scheme of Government of India.
Scores of colleges are yet to be shifted into their own campuses even as the enrolment is going down, leaving one wondrous about the purpose of building new buildings.