Closure of courses to hit girls from marginalised sections

Kamala Nehru Polytechnic students and alumni staging a protest at Gun Park in Hyderabad.   | Photo Credit: RAMAKRISHNA G

Success or failure of the month-long agitation by students and alumni of the Kamala Nehru Polytechnic College for Women against the closure of certain courses could determine the fate of the aspirations of countless girl students from poor and marginalised backgrounds across the State.

It could also determine the future character of the grand old institution set up in 1961 as India’s first women’s polytechnic, and Asia’s third.

The institution that has churned out thousands of skilled women professionals over the last 60 years is gasping for lack of government aid, due to which the Exhibition Society running it has decided to convert the courses into self-finance.

Four streams, including Civil Engineering, Electronics and Communications, Chemical and Material Engineering, and Commercial and Computer Practice shall be converted into self-finance mode, while four more, including Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Diploma in Garment Technology, Pharmacy and Architecture, will be closed altogether.

The decision has drawn consternation from the student community and alumni too, who have begun to protest against it as a measure which would affect girl students from marginalised backgrounds. Support came in from noted social activists and groups too.

“If not for these courses in an all-women college, several girls would be married off after their high school by the parents,” says Varsha Bhargavi, a social activist from the Telangana Women and Transgender Joint Action Committee.

Renowned social worker and founder of the MV Foundation Shanta Sinha echoed the sentiments, when she said closure of the college in the present situation spawned by COVID-19 pandemic will result in early marriage and violence for scores of girls.

“A fourth of these students are first generation learners from poor and marginalised backgrounds. What is the point of all the big talk about skill development, Make in India, and Beti Padhao when you are depriving women of the courses that will give them employment and security?” Ms. Sinha questions.

Of the combined annual intake of 1180 polytechnic students across the state, 450 are accommodated in the Kamala Nehru College alone.

“Several of us are poor with parents who cannot afford higher education for children. Closure of the courses will also jeopardise our careers as we cannot apply for the regular graduation courses,” says Gali Anusha, a protesting student from Garment Technology.

Exhibition Society which runs 18 more institutions apart from the college, blames the government. For the 56 posts of aided teaching staff in the college, only nine remain now, and the government has now scrapped 39 contract lecturer posts too.

“Due to pandemic, industrial exhibition could not be held this year, resulting in drastic reduction of revenue. We have to run the show with mere ₹4 lakh per annum, which is highly impossible if government does not chip in,” said Gangadhar Rao, Director of the Society.

Sixteen pleas to the government and two to the Education Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy had yielded no result, he said.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 3:03:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/closure-of-courses-to-hit-girls-from-marginalised-sections/article35658581.ece

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