Sikkim chief minister PS Golay Credit: File image

Gangtok: Commemorating ‘Students Rights Day’, chief minister Prem Singh Golay announced that all funds from the North East Council to Sikkim will be devoted towards strengthening of state’s education sector.

Prior to the announcement, the president of SKM Student’s Wing and Lok Sabha MP Indra Hang Subba devoted the MP Local Area Development Fund towards the development of schools in the state. The announcement came during an event at Manan Kendra organised by the Sikkim Krantikari Vidhyarthi Morcha with representatives of Sikkim University Students Association (SUSA), Students Representative Council (SRCs) of various colleges, Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP) along with Cabinet ministers, MLAs and bureaucrats in attendance.

The day for Student’s Rights grew out of a protest against the 200% hike in college fees back in 2014. It was a widespread protest by the students which was deemed as illegal by the previous government, asserted the Chief Minister. “Students representative council along with Sikkim University Students Association requested the government to roll back the hike, but the same was not taken into consideration by the then SDF government and students took to the streets. As per the students and given their rights, it was justified, but lathi charge on the students then was wrong. Since 2015, we commemorate this day and we will declare this day as a government holiday,” said Golay.

Batting for the current government’s devotion to the education sector, Golay said, “All funds coming in from North East Council will be devoted towards university and colleges tackling all the troubles in the education sector. In 2019-20 we could devote the budget towards education as many promises in the manifesto could not be fulfilled by the same was carried out in the 2020-21 budget. But with lockdown, we have stalled developmental works till August. Our government has placed a lot of attention on the education sector, knowing that the SRC and SUSA are the platforms, we welcome all such discussions in favour of the student community of the state and education sector to be in tandem with the government”.

Campus Pride

Every college the state has infrastructural issues. Golay said that before considering new campuses, we have to fix the already existing infrastructure. Even though the problem wasn’t created by them, the CM states that these issues will be resolved in the next 3 to 4 years.

He emphasized that the need of the hour for Sikkim’s education sector is upgradation.

Similar concerns were floated recently by Geyzing College students, who resorted to a protest. “They placed their concern and we are working on the same after the COVID scare ends. The proposal for extension of Nar Bahadur Bhandari Degree College as a premier institute in the state with additional space for post –graduation as part of Sikkim State University”, stated Golay.

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Sikkim University campus’ 13 years of delay

Sikkim University was established in 2007, but to this day it functions without a campus, as the transfer to Yangang has not been a possibility. “Our Central Education Minister has been well informed about the condition and he has promised of an action soon. The purpose of the state government was to allot lands for the development, but the same was overlooked by the former government. The cost of paying for those land, was their responsibility with later consideration even including 50% to be paid by the University of the Rs 30 crore budget. But despite the surge of land prices to Rs 290 Crores, the land was not recognized and it has been 13 years now”.

Second Section for more students in universities

Sikkim University lacks the manpower and generating our own manpower may take years. The same comes into account, even when Sikkimese students are not getting admissions in the University. “My personal suggestion is to the same is to develop a second section for the students in every department, such that our Sikkimese students get more seats in the university and in due course, we can develop the manpower for the University and we will provide the funds for their development. It will also resolve the issue of Sikkimese students not getting enough seats”.

Hostel facilities for students outside Sikkim

While for students studying outside the state, the state government proposed hostel facilities in all the metropolitan cities where they go for graduation. “They have been facing a lot of concerns currently with house rents to be paid despite them not staying in the place. State government will work out a plan with every state for a hostel for Sikkimese students”. We will maintain a database of what each of them are doing after graduation, he added.

Chakung Science College as excellence of learning

“Chakung Science College should not merely be Science College but a centre for excellence which will have coaching for UPSC, not merely for students of Sikkim but at a national and international level. With Sikkim students being given free education but those from outside will have to pay the fees. Such kind of centre of excellence will be established in Chakung-Soreng,” said the CM.

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NIT Campus in Khamdong within this year

Absence of a proper National Institute of Technology in the state has affected the students who have to go far flung states for education. “NIT in Sikkim was proposed and established years ago, but every time prior to election, the previous government used it for politics and not its development. On the basis of NIT, they won two elections, with the declaration of taking NIT elsewhere from its current location in Rabongla. It was never taken to Khamdong, which was proposed time and again. For NIT, there is a need for 100 acres of land, we have kept the funds for the same, initially when we formed the government, later in the annual budget and now in the supplementary budget as well, we will keep the funds for its development”, stated Golay.

He further added, “Within this year we will establish NIT in Khamdong, it will be for the entire country, it will increase the economy in the State when these students from outside Sikkim will come. Our devotion towards the allocation of the land, connecting roads and electricity and the State is equipped to handle the same”.

Establishment of an admission awareness wing

Golay floated a suggestion to Sikkim Krantikari Morcha’s students wing to not devote itself merely for taking students towards politics. “It is a political wing of the party, which we confess, and it is not apolitical. But, when the students are taking in admissions in colleges and universities, there must be no biasness in extending support. Upper Class families who can afford admission anywhere can manage, but those from poor background must be helped, they do not know where to go, that is when SKM Vidhyarthi Morcha must come in aid. For students, they need awareness and counseling to reach college after school, we have set an awareness fund, with a team in schools to make them aware”, stated Golay.

He further suggested the wing to take suggestions from the Students Representative Council, to establish an admission wing with subsidiary organization in other states as well. “Help those with great enthusiasm for education but lacking the economic support, all students association must come in aid of such students. We will try to pull funds from the Education Department to help those. Carry out the aid in releasing stipends for students studying outside the state. This can be aided with SRC and SUSA also being included,” he said.

The Student Wing was also instrumental in bringing in students stranded outside during the pandemic with the responsibility to facilitate was given to the Wing. Almost all the students were given monetary aid of Rs 2500 during the lockdown.

Exposure trips even for headmasters and principals

Sikkim students were not given education tour or exposure trip, before. “For the same, we have devoted funds for travel to other states but for those in Junior High School will be awarded such trips within the State,” said the CM.

A special focus was being laid on teachers training, as part of education development. “We understand the value addition that can be made in a student’s life by a teacher or a principal of the school. Hence, we have made consideration on sending school principals to abroad countries, such that they bring in the knowledge to the school. Even the headmasters, could be send to good institutions for training,” said Golay.

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