Sikkim Government College students stage a demonstration questioning Sikkim's education system
Is Sikkim's education system flawed? Students from Sikkim Government College Geyzing questions the state education department on basis of its workings, wherein more than 30 students camp outside the department of education in the capital questioning the delay of their college's proposed construction.
Sikkim Government College, Geyzing, is the first college to be established in West Sikkim by the previous government in 2010. Initially, the college functioned on a rental basis since the construction of the college had just begun. According to the blueprint of the campus infrastructure, the structure was to be completed by 2015. However, the state department failed to do so.
After nine years of its establishment, the campus wasn’t completed. Over a hundred students held a peaceful protest in March 2020 inside the college demanding a dialogue with the education department officials.
After two days, they were called upon by the Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang at the capital for dialogue and after an hour of discussion between the CM, Education minister, other officials from the department as well as 90 students of SGC, a written assurance was provided to the students which stated that the construction of their college campus will be divided into two phases, wherein the first phase would be completed within three months and the second within a span of two years. Soon, construction was resumed by the concerned department.
The official assurance states:
“The education department shall prepare DPRs for the construction of the academic block, boys hostel and carpeting of road within the campus and obtain the sanction of the government within three months period. The ongoing fencing work shall also be completed within three months. Any shortage of desks and benches shall immediately be fulfilled by the education department. If any additional funds are required for this purpose the same shall be made available from the chief minister relief fund (CMRF).”
Additionally, it also stated:
“...to enable the department of education to complete all the ongoing works, funds of Rs 10 crores will be made available to the department within the current financial year”.
However, after ten long months on February 3, 2021, the students showed up again at the capital for a protest.
One student said, “It was assured by the chief minister and other department officials that the phase one of the construction will be completed with 3 months of the starting but it has been 10 months and we can see not even 50% of the work has been completed yet”
Another student stated, “It’s very difficult for us to study as during some classes we have to stand for the whole lecture by the professor as there are no sufficient chairs to sit on”
The students were seen holding charts and raising slogans outside the education department requesting to fulfil their demand to complete the college infrastructure. The students are firm in their resolution of boycotting college until the minister of education comes and addresses the students.
“We belong from a financially weaker section of the society but education is our right given by the constitution of India and we believe that it’s our right to gain a quality education with all the basic needs and facilities and it’s the responsibility of the education department to provide us with fine infrastructure for the healthy and quality educational environment,” said another.
“We students are children and the education department is our guardian, if we need something at home we ask our father likewise if we need anything at college then we will ask the department for it.”
On the third day of protest, the students were detained by the Sikkim police at midnight. Around 18 male students were taken by the police on February 4, 2021.
Praveen Gurung DIG Range said that there was a complaint to the police from the Additional Chief Secretary against the students on obstructing his movement in the office and had to be rescued from the office.
“The department had managed a room for us so we left for the room yesterday and in the morning when we were about to start for the education department we came to know that the police had detained our fellow students by the Sikkim police,” asserts Monica Bhujel, a second-year Political Science student of SGC.
Infrastructure is one of the key players when it comes to educating students. It is the infrastructure which creates a healthy environment for learning among students. Without it, education is null, and it’s the responsibility of concerned departments to provide such basic support and prioritize the needs of the next generation.