Kohima: Students of Mon district’s only college –Wangkhao Government College—recently gathered in unison to voice their resentment against the acute shortage of teachers in the institution, calling the attention of the state government. While the college has been facing shortage of lecturers for a “very long time”, the demands and appeals made by the students fell on deaf ears until the total boycott of classes called by the students on February 13 and 14.
Speaking with EastMojo, Pangnyei Konyak, general secretary of Wangkhao College Students’ Union said that the students were compelled to protest in demand for teachers in the college. He said that the two-day boycott of classes was called off after minister of higher education Temjen Imna Along gave written assurance to the students that the matter will be taken up within 10 working days.
Konyak said that the students body had received the letter of assurance on February 16. “But if the government does not take necessary action within the time frame that was assured, we will be compelled to agitate further,” he said. He added that the recent protest was initiated as the ‘last option’ to put their demands on record, as all verbal assurances given by the department were not fulfilled.
He then recounted how the only college in the district has been facing acute shortage of teachers for many years now. Currently 17 teachers, out of which seven are contractual employees, have been assigned for a total of 474 students in the college. He said that a memorandum was submitted to the minister-in-charge of higher education on February 3 last year, highlighting the need to allot teachers/professors to the college. Later on August 13, an application was also submitted to the department concerned, and while verbal assurances were given, no actions were initiated.
The college offers courses in English, Education, Economics, History, Political Science with honors subject, and Sociology (without honors). He cited how two out of three teachers in the education department and one out of two teachers in sociology department were transferred even after the memorandum was submitted, thereby decreasing the strength of teachers in the college, despite the appeals made by students.
The total numbers of students are expected to increase to 600-700 by the month of May. He said that the students have demanded for the increase of teachers from 17 to 30-40, with at least five teachers in each department.
Other than the acute shortage of teachers, he said that the college faces many “shortcomings”, he pointed the difficulties faced by students. The college, located about 5-km away from Mon town, has no hostel facilities. Students are made to avail just three bus services, out of which two buses running for the past 12 years are almost broken down.
He highlighted that the classrooms lack good facilities, even without proper desks and benches. The college is also deprived of an auditorium. Although the college has a library, he said that there is no librarian assigned in the college.
The decision of the government to look into the matters comes after the issue was raised in the recently concluded State Assembly when MLA YM Yollow Konyak, from the opposition bench highlighted the plea of the protesting students. Chief minister Neiphiu Rio had then assured that in two weeks time, “justice” will be done to the College.