Kochi, August 30. Emotional reunions of students and teachers were witnessed across this southern state as a majority of primary-secondary schools reopened on August 29 after a grim fortnight of devastating rain and floods. According to the state’s education minister C. Raveendranath, 650 schools were damaged by severe flooding — the worst of the past century. “Barring 211, all others have opened. While the infrastructure of 117 schools has been severely damaged, 85 schools have been converted into relief centres,” he said.
Since August 9, the state recorded heavy rainfall — 164 percent above normal — which forced the authorities to open the sluice gates of 35 dams sending water torrents into villages. In the deluge and landslides, 417 people lost their lives while 1.4 million were moved into 3,000-plus relief camps, most of them schools built on higher ground.
After the waters receded, schools underwent massive clean-up operations before re-opening. Meanwhile, the state government has instructed their managements to defer the distribution of textbooks and uniforms until normalcy is restored. The state’s ministry of public instruction and the Delhi-based CBSE have promised supply of new marks cards and other documents lost in floods.
100 percent failure
Panaji, August 22. All 8,000 college/university graduates who wrote an examination conducted by the state government in early January to recruit accountants, failed the test.
The candidates were required to average a minimum 50 percent to qualify but failed to do so, said a senior government official who announced the results of the five-hour examination which included papers in English, general knowledge and accountancy.
Pradeep Padgaonkar, general secretary of the state unit of the Aam Aadmi Party, criticised the delay in announcing results and said the 100 percent failure is a “sad commentary” on the “collapse” of the state’s education system. “It is a big shame for Goa University and affiliated commerce colleges which certified them,” he added.
Higher Education Council
Chandigarh, August 21. The state government has approved establishment of a higher education council. A Bill to ensure minimum standards in higher education will be tabled in the legislative assembly shortly, said an official spokesperson of the chief minister’s office.
The object of the Bill is to ensure planned and coordinated development of higher education in the state. Headed by the chief minister, the council will include the higher education minister as its vice chairman, and the secretary of higher education as member secretary, added the spokesperson.
In addition, the governing board of the council will include vice chancellors of state universities, principals of government colleges and eminent personalities from arts, science, technology, culture, and industry. The initiative will also fulfill one of the prerequisites of the next phase of the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan-2 (RUSA) initiative of the Central government and will qualify the state government to become eligible for receiving grants under RUSA-2.
Ravenshaw University enquiry
Cuttack, August 21. A senior official of the state’s higher education department conducted a day-long inquiry into alleged irregularities in Ravenshaw University — founded as Ravenshaw College in 1868, and conferred university status in 2006.
According to an official communique of the government, P.K. Das, additional secretary in the state’s higher education ministry, examined the university’s audit reports of the past two years to investigate alleged misappropriation of funds and suspect purchases made by the university over the past two years. Das also examined the modes of appointment of permanent, contract and guest faculty at the university. “I will submit a consolidated report to the higher education secretary soon as per government direction,” said Das.
Allegations of misappropriation of funds, faulty recruitment of teachers as well as contracting guest faculty and unmerited promotions under the varsity’s career advancement scheme, were levelled against the university administration by several students and citizens in Cuttack, prompting the higher education secretary to order an administrative inquiry.
Ranchi, August 20. The state government will take appropriate action to incorporate the life and philosophy of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who died on August 16, into school curriculums, chief minister Raghubar Das said in an official communique.
Das described Vajpayee as the creator of Jharkhand, which was carved out of Bihar on November 15, 2000 when Vajpayee headed a BJP/NDA government at the Centre. “It is the duty of the people and the state government to do something special for him. He will always remain our ideal and inspiration. His ashes have been immersed in five major rivers of Jharkhand,” he said.