The Telangana state government has issued a notice saying that post-graduation courses will be scrapped from around 20 government degree colleges from the academic year 2019-2020. Until the current academic year, PG courses were taught in 40 government degree colleges across the state.
On Monday, July 1, members of Students' Federation of India (SFI), All India Students’ Federation (AISF), and Progressive Democratic Students’ Union (PDSU) held a protest in Suryapet district of the state, in front of the residence of Education Minister G Jagadish Reddy. However, in an attempt to curb the protest, the police got into a clash with the protesters and detained the protesters before taking them to the police station.
KMM Nagaraj, joint secretary of SFI Telangana told NewsClick that an order was issued by Naveen Mittal, the Higher Education Commissioner for the state, saying that the PG courses will be discontinued in as many as 20 government degree colleges from the current academic year. He said, “This move will affect around 1,600 teachers who were working in these 20 colleges, and almost 15,000 students will also be affected by this move.”
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He added that the worst affected sections will be the female students and the students who come from marginalised communities, as they will not be able to continue their higher education in the private colleges. The public-funded education system is the only way they can access higher education. He said, “The tribal population in the state, the women and the students from marginalised communities are all dependent on the government colleges. Most of the students from the remote areas study at the government degree colleges. How will these students access education if the PG courses in these colleges are shut down? Does the government not care about their future?”
According to Nagaraj, the government has been unable to explain the reason behind this move. He said, “The authorities are saying that they are shutting down the PG colleges because the same teachers sometimes teach both the undergraduate and postgraduate courses. But that cannot be a reason, because there are no such restrictions for private colleges. There, the same faculty teaches both the UG and PG courses and the government has not made any attempts to stop that.”
The students and the guest faculty of SR&BGNR Government College, Khammam, which is one of the colleges where the PG courses have been discontinued, wrote a letter to their MLA, Puvvada Ajay Kumar, expressing their discontent with the move. They said in the letter, “Out of the 560 PG students in the college, number of female students is more than 60%, as the parents prefer sending their daughters to the nearest colleges because of societal limitations. More than 50 guest faculty and 20 non-teaching staff were employed in running these courses.” They added, “We are requesting you to kindly take necessary action to continue all the PG courses in our college, to help the female students access higher education, and to continue the employment of the guest faculty and the non-teaching staff.”
After the protest demonstration in Suryapet, the students’ organisations are planning to organise bigger protests across the state against the cancellation of the PG courses. Nagaraj said, “In the current month, SFI will organise massive state-wide protests against this irresponsible decision of the government. We will not let them destroy the future of thousands of students like this.”