Maharashtra: Decision to reopen colleges to be taken by Jan 20

West Bengal: Less demand for college seats “for SSC scam”

August 31, 2022
Mita Mukherjee

The demand for seats in some of the very popular subjects in  undergraduate courses in Bengal has declined this year. Subjects like history, geography, English, Bengali and mathematics which used to be of high demand among large number of students even till last year have less takers this time, heads of several colleges said.

The SSC scam involving thousands of “illegal” appointment of government school teachers and corruption in the recruitment process is one of the main reasons why students are showing less interest in studying the subjects, according to many institutions. In the previous years, the  colleges would notice a rush among students, particularly those coming from middle income group families  in the districts to study these subjects which are taught in schools at the secondary and higher secondary levels.
 
With shrinking job opportunities due to lack of industries in Bengal, teaching jobs in the 18,000 odd secondary and higher secondary government funded  schools has been of high in demand among students in the state for many years. The aspiring teachers would study these subjects at the undergraduate level  with a main aim to secure a teaching job in a government school after completing the courses.
 
With the Central investigating agencies gradually unfolding the corruptions in the teacher recruitment process, students are now wary of choosing the school teaching jobs, according to many college teachers.
 
Most colleges said students had initially filled up the application forms for admission. But finally they did not take the seats when they got selected.
 
Noticing the huge number of unfilled seats, several colleges contacted the students to know why they were refusing to take the seats.
After talking to them, many colleges have found that the SSC scam has created a sense of fear among the students which has created a feeling  that they would be able to manage a job only if they paid a hefty amount as bribe, and therefore they are less keen to study these courses.
 
Over the past several weeks, the Bengal school education system has been under legal scrutiny with two Central agencies, the  CBI and ED investigating a corruption scam involving  recruitment of government school teachers by the state School Service Commission (SSC) and thousands of “illegal” appointments. Former education minister, Partha Chatterjee, who was one of the most influential minister in the Mamata Banerjee cabinet was arrested by the ED last month and he was later suspended by  the Trinamul Congress party.
 
A cording to Chandan Chakrabarti, principal of Vivekananda College in the northern outskirt of Kolkata, ” We got in touch with several students who were selected, when we saw they were not taking the seats. A large number of students told us they had plans to become teachers in government schools. But now they would want to study some other professional course so that they could be eligible for jobs in some other field.”
 
At Chakarabarti’s college more than 800 out of 2500 seats are lying vacant this year. The number of unfilled seats were much less last year, he said.
 
At Maheshtala College in South 24 Parganas only 310 out of 1248  seats have been filled.  According to Rumpa Das principal of the college, “I had a conversation with many students who are unwilling to take the seats. I found mixed reactions  regarding the ongoing controversy.  Some of them are worried about the future recruitments in government schools because of the present situation. At the same time many of them ignored the controversy. We are still trying to figure out the exact reasons behind this reluctance to join these course,” Das said.
 
Sukumar Chandra, principal of Pingla Thana Mahavidyalaya in Paschim Midnapore district said nearly 750 out of around 1650 seats have been filled in his college.
 
He, however , said that many students were also not wanting to join the courses because of financial problems.  Many families are facing acute financial crisis after the Covid 19 lockdown and many students are forced to quit studies for doing small jobs to run their families. 
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