Hamro lai haina, ramro lai: Unanimous chorus of Soreng's Govt. B.Ed College students
‘Backdoor entry’ in Sikkim is not new to the scenario. Be it government jobs, higher education sector, it has spread its roots deep and strong. The recent case of students demanding a fair and transparent selection procedure for B.Ed. (Bachelors in Education) in the state’s lone government B.Ed. College, Soreng is one classic example.
On January 13, Govt. B.Ed. College, Soreng released its first list of selected candidates for the session 2020-2021. The candidates were invited to get admitted between 13-20 January. But the controversy arose when the list disclosed only the application ID numbers of the selected applicants calling into question the transparency of the selection process.
This year because of the global pandemic and subsequent lockdown, there was no entrance examination and students were selected for admission entirely based on their college scores. The college admits 150 students annually and out of the 33 seats are reserved for in-service teachers, differently-abled and non-COI holders. The remaining, 117 seats are for fresh candidates. This year the college had received more than 1200 applications.
“The merit list of the students selected for admission was declared by the college recently and unlike previous years there was no mention of the name and the percentage of the selected candidates, some applicants with lower CGPA were selected for admission while those with higher CGPA ignored”, said one of the students.
The aggrieved applicants immediately visited both the college and Education department but did not receive any satisfactory reply. Lal Bahadur Bhujel who was among the three students who met with the senior officials of the education department on January 20 said, “The additional chief secretary of the education department had asked for 4 days time to resolve the issue. He told us that they’ll make some deliberations and release the notifications in the official website and as well as the college website. But nothing was done as promised.”
Bhujel claims that the authorities tried to shift the goalpost mid-game by claiming quotas for economically weaker sections (EWS). “My question is how can they allot the seats on the basis of EWS without the applicants producing their EWS certificate? At the time of applying, there were only few documents that were mentioned in the official website and EWS certificate wasn’t one of them.”
Then, he says, “They tried to create divisions among us but each and every one of us stood together in unity. We would have accepted the reason, had it been mentioned in the notice but at the time we weren’t ready to accept the allocation of even a single additional quota. We told them if the department wanted to provide more quotas, then they would have to scrap the present admission and conduct fresh ones. Our demand was plain and simple; Hamro lai haina, Ramro lai (not ours, but the one who deserves).”
He says that at the end, when the authorities realized nothing was going to work out, the department gave in writing that they were going to meet the applicants and resolve the issue on January 29. But on January 28 Soreng College published a new list of 117 selected candidates (including only the COI fresh applicants) and it mentioned the percentage along with the application ID numbers. The list showed that 50 new entrants were indicating that from the previous list of selected candidates, the admission of 50 students would be cancelled.
“If we were to fall for their excuses, we all would have stepped back and justice wouldn’t be served. It is not about my personal benefit. I am not among the selected students but my point is, that the selection process must be fair and every candidate irrespective of being selected or not must be satisfied. And the government must answerable to the 50 students whose names were dropped out.” Bhujel said.
Bhujel mentions that on January 25 during one of the many so-called meeting, they left the applicants in between the conversation in the office without conclusion. He says, “This behaviour is a clear picture of how the higher authorities have been taking us. This is not new to us. They have been taking us for granted for years. They have been undermining the public power. We no longer trust the authorities”.
“Our people lack awareness. If during the previous years, the then students would have raised their voices against such practices, today we wouldn’t have had to do all these. We’re raising our voice, not just for ourselves but for the generations to come as an example that we will not tolerate injustice.” He adds
Bhujel, on behalf of all the applicants extends heartfelt gratitude to Sikkim Youth Progressive Forum (SPYF) for their support.
The administration of the institution has refrained from speaking on the issue. Despite constant calls to the Principal and other administrative members by the SC team, there has been no response or statement issued.
By Grace Mahima Rai
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