Mukul nod to students’ demand
Members of the Khasi Students’ Union meet chief minister Mukul Sangma in Shillong on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos
Shillong, March 5: Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma today agreed to the demand of students to scrap an agreement between the state government and an agency for providing coaching to students who aspire to appear for various competitive examinations, including the civil services examinations.
Last year, the Meghalaya government signed the agreement with Jain’s IAS Study Circle, New Delhi, to run a coaching centre here for students who want to appear for civil services examinations. The coaching centre was established under the chief minister’s career guidance-cum-counselling programme.
The Khasi Students Union (KSU) along with students who had undergone the coaching for civil services examination at the Jain’s IAS Study Circle, met the chief minister and complained about the poor quality of coaching.
“We came to you because we are not satisfied with the quality of the programme. We were excited and happy that such a programme was started. It was high time that someone brought about a change, and we felt extremely honoured and privileged to be a part of your (chief minister’s) dreams. But our dreams turned into nightmares as we faced problems. We seek your guidance and counsel in finding an amicable solution to all our problems,” the students said in a petition to Sangma.
Some of the complaints made by the students were that the coaching centre has inadequate faculty and one teacher has to teach many subjects. Often the teacher gave incorrect data on certain topics, there were inadequate study materials and on some occasions, materials supplied to the students were taken haphazardly from websites such as Wikipedia. In October and November, some students were made to sign a document stating that the entire course was completed.
“Despite reservations on the part of the students, we were made to sign, even though half the course was not completed. We were asked to sign attendance sheets even on the days the students were absent and the attendance sheets were pre as well as post dated,” the students told the chief minister.
They also said one person, Nitin S. Raade, who is not a teacher, was also asked to teach at Jain’s IAS Study Circle.
The students said they were forced to take public administration as their optional subject and were not given a choice of their preferred optional subjects.
They also pointed out that the preparation for preliminary examination was inadequate and according to the information brochure, the duration of the preliminary classes was for three-and-a-half months, but it was less than two months.
“The students have had to endure undue mental torture over the past few months. It is extremely disheartening and unfortunate that this has happened. Some of the students even left their jobs to pursue this path. What will happen to them? Also, the name of the chief minister is being tarnished and severely damaged,” the union said.
The students asked the government to put in a monitoring system so that they could air their grievances, replace the agency, appoint efficient and qualified teachers directly under the supervision and monitoring of the government, arrange an alternative mechanism by sponsoring coaching for them in premier institutes in New Delhi and rehabilitate the affected students by providing necessary materials required for the civil services examination.
KSU’s education secretary Donald Thabah said in the beginning of the coaching class for civil service examination, there were over 100 students who enrolled at the Jain’s IAS Study Circle but most of the students left halfway after experiencing the poor quality of coaching.
“The chief minister has assured to sever the agreement with the Jain’s IAS Study Circle and will tie up with many other agencies to run the coaching programme,” Thabah said.
Mukul told reporters that the chief minister’s career guidance-cum-counselling programme has been launched in other districts of the state apart from the state capital, Shillong and the respective deputy commissioners are the chief counsellors for the programme.
“When we start something new, we encounter problems but the chief counsellors have been directed to take necessary steps and find remedy,” Sangma said.
Sangma said the government wanted to have more agencies for running the centres, including some by qualified youths of the state, so that there is stiff competition among them in terms of imparting quality coaching and enable the students choose the right career.
Law department cell
Sangma today said the state law department should have a strong legislative cell which will examine the bills passed by the three autonomous district councils (ADCs) and other legislative measures embarked upon by the state government.
“The law department should have a strong cell to examine not only the bills sent by the district councils to the government for getting the assent of the governor but other legislative measures which the government has embarked upon and attend to various existing laws which need to be updated through amendments, besides studying various litigations,” Sangma told reporters after a meeting with the executive members of the KHADC led by the chief executive member (CEM), Adelbert Nongrum at the civil secretariat main building here today.
However, district council affairs minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh, also a member of the KHADC, was not present. The meeting discussed the pending bills passed by the KHADC, including the Khasi Hills District (Village Administration) Bill, 2014 besides the shares that the district councils should receive from the state government as well the awards from the 14<+>th<+> Finance Commission.
On bills passed by the KHADC that had been returned by the state government, Sangma said such pending bills which require the assent of the governor need to be corrected so that they do not come in conflict with any other existing laws passed by the state. “The DCA department will further examine those pending bills and many legislative aspects need stringent filtering by the law department,” he said.
On the need to set up a strong legislative cell within the state law department, Sangma said such exercise was not only for the law department but for other departments as well, including the DCA. The chief minister also directed the DCA department to look into the issue of lack of manpower so that the department can function smoothly and in a position to attend to various legislative aspects and other issues. Sangma also underlined the need to have a proper mechanism for timely release of shares between the state government and the district councils.
“The state finance commission in the state will look into the financial matters including transfer of funds from the state government to the ADCs even to the municipalities,” Sangma said.
On the financial problem that may plague the district councils, especially when there was no mention of the funds for the ADCs in the recommendation of the 14<+>th<+> Finance Commission, Sangma said he has assured the KHADC chief that the issue would be also taken up with the Centre in right earnest.
“We need to look positively at the recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission,” Sangma said.
KHADC chief Nongrum said the council had asked the government to point out the flaws in the Village Administration Bill so that it could be sent to the governor for his assent. He also thanked the chief minister and the government for the assurance to the council on the issue. The CEM said since 1994, there are at least 21 bills passed by the KHADC which are yet to be approved by the government for the governor’s assent.