Need for a new engineering college-Dr Gayatri Gogoi,The Assam Tribune,13.04.2007

Education and progress of the nation are directly proportional to each other. The primary education is a base and higher education is a vehicle to march forward. Education research and invention are some of the principal milestones of modern civilization. The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) has prepared very important crucial notes in November 2006 after extensive consultation with experts in the field of education from India and abroad. They have done a thorough study on the entire education system in India and its strengths and weaknesses. Finally offering much valuable suggestions to reform the system, Sam Pitroda, Chairman of NKC submitted the detailed report and suggestions to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.

Situated in a small corner of the State, where an optimistic movement going on to create opportunity for higher education, Dhemaji does not have a single industry but comes to lime light due to untold miseries caused by flood every year. Of course it doesn’t mean that the people of Dhemaji are not industrious. The social mobilisation has very close correlation with recent NKC analysis and futuristic requirement of such institutions. In the report of Commission, emphasis was laid on crisis of higher education. It has clearly stated that there is urgent need of massive expansion of higher education opportunities nationwide. India has only 350 universities from smallest to largest. So these universities are able to cater to 7 per cent of young student population in the age group of 18-24 years only. The present capacity is simply inadequate to actual figures of necessity. This shortfall leads to deprivation of deserving candidates by forcing them keep away from pursuing higher education. This is in a sense social injustice to the young population. In other words no one should be stopped from gaining knowledge.

It is estimated by NKC that at least 1500 new universities would be required to accommodate 15 per cent students of India. The NKC is now redefining the role of universities to build up a learned young vibrant society. The notes comprise in depth discussion on curriculum, its constant upgradation, assessment procedures for imparting quality education, research as an, essential escalator to academic excellence, sincere policies to attract and retain talented faculties, management of finance and public contributions, infra structure development, well governance and investment by private agencies etc. It also includes effective regulation and quality control of undergraduate education. The Commission suggested to initiate purposeful education by remodeling stereotyped institutions or colleges to community colleges where both vocational and formal education can be provided together.

The people of Dhemaji have been demanding establishment of an engineering college at Dhemaji. No student should be denied of higher education for financial constraints or for other material possessions or social status. But every year hundreds of students of Assam are unable to get enough opportunities in our own State, and many of them shut their doors to fly high and some of them having financial back up landed up in other States like Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi etc. Assam has only three engineering colleges having capacity of 750 seats only. Tamil Nadu has 25 engineering colleges, Andhra Pradesh 223, Karnataka 112 and Maharashtra 151. A survey in this regard is much important to know the average figure of candidates who leave Assam to study in other States. In a rough estimate, around Rs 180 crore went out of the State every year in the name of study. If this amount is invested within Assam every year, it can well imagine how great that would have been. Never the less, the Government should begin short term and as well as long-term action in this regard. In the Assembly session an announcement has been made to start innovative model of technical education. The Assam Government has decided to establish a new engineering college and steps have been initiated to introduce new job oriented courses in the educational institutions of the State to prevent students of the State from going outside to pursue higher studies.”

Establishment of better and sufficient technical institutions in Assam is the need of the hour. An engineering college having innovative upcoming branches in the North bank of upper Assam is well justified. The literacy rate of Lakhimpur district is 69.59, Dhemaji 65.95 and Majuli subdivision 64.28 and the total average is above the national average. Dhemaji being geographically disadvantaged, economically backward, having high rural and tribal population, absence of high technical institution should be the criteria to select it for awarding an opportunity to compete with progressive cities. The decision of Government to set up three more new medical colleges in Jorhat, Borpeta and Kokrajhar is a very good head-start. Because peace and development is complementary and only revitalising the old three medical colleges is not enough to address the increasing need of time. Similarly an engineering college with newer branches of engineering is a high priority. Every child of the State must be able to dream a career in plastic technology, biomass energy, bio fuels, bio gasification, hydel energy, wind energy and solar energy and many upcoming areas of human need. It is observed that for progress a positive mindset is required. This institution will bring a change of mindset to think big and automatically create an enthusiastic atmosphere not only in academics but in also in other areas.

The present Government has taken up as a mission to reform the entire education system. It should also include some affirmative action immediately by taking required steps to develop this institution of excellence after having thorough consultation with the Central Government. If Assam has to progress, if violence has to stop, development is the only solution. We must realise that to contribute for peace and prosperity of Assam, every nook and corner of the State has to develop to a certain level.
(The writer teaches Pathology in Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh).

The Assam Tribune,13.04.2007