Every year, thousands of students leave the State in search of better educational opportunities elsewhere. A sizeable number also stay back, preferring to study at the mushrooming private colleges, and, infrequently, in a government college. Despite free education for all Sikkimese students by the Government of Sikkim, many still prefer to study outside the State or take admission in a private institute. A pointer perhaps at the quality of education on offer.
Tadong Government College Sikkim is an exception. The first college in the State to be accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), an autonomous institution of the University Grants Commission (UGC), it offers students a real chance at a good education. Mintu Sherpa, a Botany student, who is in Semester VI and will complete her Bachelor’s degree soon says, ‘The facilities are good, and education is free. Besides, faculty members are also competent’.
Sikkim Government College at Tadong, near the capital town of Gangtok, has been accorded grade B by the NAAC based on the findings of its survey conducted in April 2016, thus making it the first and only NAAC accredited college in the entire State of Sikkim. G P Upadhyaya, Principal Secretary of the State’s Human Resource Development says that the NAAC accreditation of Tadong College is significant as NAAC approval has been made mandatory for higher educational institutions to qualify to receive central funds under various schemes. Those with no NAAC approval will not qualify to avail any grants under central and UGC schemes. He expressed satisfaction stating that the initial efforts of the State fetched the College a B grade from NAAC that has stringent parameters, which the institutions should comply with adequately. He assured that other colleges in Sikkim would also get the NAAC accreditation in the coming days.
More Work Needed
‘Some students stay back in their home states to pursue higher studies and some venture out. Many who venture out can afford expensive admission fees and accommodation fees in other states. I for one cannot, although the quality of education on offer is a concern. However, my college is offering me competent facilities free of cost. We need more such colleges in Sikkim,’ says a student from the Department of Tourism who hails from West Sikkim and doesn’t wish to be named.
Though Tadong Government College acquiring a NAAC certificate definitely is a boost to education in the State, other colleges in the State need to buck up, many students in the capital feel that their colleges should focus more on on-field experience rather than just being classroom oriented. Outgoing student Ranju Nepal feels that it’s definitely beneficial for students to study in a NAAC accredited college, but also wishes that colleges come up with more advanced lab and techniques to make students field ready when they get out with a degree and hunt for a job.
Along with Tadong Government College, there are other government colleges in West and South District. Sikkim Government Collge in Namchi, Sikkim Government B.Ed College in Soreng, West Sikkim, Government College in Burtuk East Sikkim, Burtuk, East Sikkim, Sikkim Government Law College Burtuk, East Sikkim and Sikkim Government College, in Rhenock East Sikkim. If there is to be real equality, the HRDD must follow up on its promise to bring those under the NAAC radar.
One of the students interacting with the NAAC team said, ‘We indeed have better facilities compared to other colleges, but we still lack somewhere. Getting NAAC accreditation is beneficial for the students, but the administration also needs to be up to the mark to equip students with world class faciliies’. Requesting anonymity, the student said, ‘On the day NAAC team visited, we had super fast wifi but after that the network is nowhere to be found’. Such anomalies need to be erased.
What is NAAC?
The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is an organisation that assesses and accredits institutions of higher education in India. It accords Cumulative Grade Points Average (CGPA) as per its survey findings of the institutions of higher education on its various set parameters.
(This story appeared in July 2016 Issue of Eclectic Northeast)