In a move that was widely hailed as a fillip for higher education, the State government, in April, announced 398 new courses in existing government colleges. Three months into the academic year, none of the promised courses seems to have taken off.
Among the new courses that were to be introduced in over 50 colleges were those in visual communication, zoology, research-based courses, statistics, electronics, tourism, political science, business English, bio-technology, bio-sciences and defence studies. Government officials had said these courses would begin by June.
“We are still waiting for orders from the government to start giving out forms for these courses. We do not have written orders from them, and we hope we will get an order soon. More importantly, we need teachers and labs for these courses, and those arrangements are yet to be made,” said the principal of a government college here, which was informed in May that it will get seven new courses.
For instance, courses in B.Sc. Visual Communication and B.Sc. Nutritional Science were to be introduced in Dr. Ambedkar Government College, Vyasarpadi.
“But laboratories need to be set up before classes begin. Only then can we assure quality in teaching and learning,” says Dr. M. Ravichandran, vice-president, All India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisation, and a faculty member at the college.
Parents of students who wish to be enrolled in these courses are eagerly waiting for them to commence. “We have been coming to the college every week, but are asked to come the next week, as the college officials have not received instructions or resources to go ahead with the new courses,” said D. Sundaram, a cab driver, who wants to enrol his son in a mass communication course in a government college in the city.
“A private college will charge not less than Rs. 1 lakh for a seat in visual communication. It was such a relief to hear that government colleges were to offer the course, but now the wait seems to be never-ending,” he added.
The delay has caused concern among teachers too. “We have lost many working days already. Even if the courses are started tomorrow, teachers have to work at breakneck speed to complete portions and practical classes,” said R. Murthy, Tamilnadu Government College Teachers’ Manram.
Government colleges in the city receive over 4,000 applications every year and officials say the enrolment is increasing by 20 per cent every year, with more students from rural areas joining.