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UGC blocking scholarship grants to researchers: CM

UGC blocking scholarship grants to researchers: CM
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Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday slammed the University Grants Commission (UGC) for stopping scholarship grants to researchers and issuing directives to higher educational institutes in the state.

The Chief Minister also said that graduates would intern as school teachers after completing their respective courses. This would be a major step towards addressing the issue of dearth of teachers in schools.

To span out the distribution of teachers evenly, the Mamata Banerjee government is also planning to bring Class V under the ambit of the primary board.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Vice-Chancellors of universities, principals of colleges and presidents of the primary and secondary education board at Nabanna Sabhaghar on Monday, she said: "We have received complaints from various colleges and universities about UGC stopping grants for scholarship for PhD projects under National Eligibility Test (NET)."

She further added: "Many representatives of universities and colleges have also informed that they (the UGC) are regularly issuing 'fatwa' on different issues. This is not proper."

It is also important to mention that state Education minister Partha Chatterjee has earlier taken exception to different notifications from the UGC ranging from a call to observe September 29 as 'Surgical Strike Day' to observance of the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on October 31 as 'Rashtriya Ekta Diwas' (National Unity Day).

Focusing on planning to bring Class V under the primary board, Banerjee added: "There are schools that have excess teachers while some others have fewer numbers. Hence, we are proposing to have college students as interns for a period of two years who, after they pass out, will be sent to schools as intern teachers."

According to Banerjee, graduates will be roped in to teach in primary schools while postgraduates will be teaching in secondary and higher secondary schools. Those teaching in primary classes may be offered a stipend of Rs 2,000 a month while those in secondary and higher secondary may get Rs 2,500 a month.

The Chief Minister said if the performance of these student teachers is found to be satisfactory, then they may get some sort of priority during the permanent recruitment process.

Banerjee also announced the constitution of a committee led by the state Education minister and with Vice-Chancellors of Jadavpur University, Calcutta University and Presidency University which will come up with ways on inspiring universities from the districts to improve their education standards.

She also directed her government officials present in the meeting to develop an app so that the Vice-Chancellors and college principals can keep in touch with the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) directly.

Banerjee also highlighted the achievements of the state Education department in the sector. "The dropouts in schools have come down because of the Kanyashree scheme and there has been a sharp increase in girl students to the extent of 72 percent," Banerjee said.

The state government has set up 28 new universities and 10 new colleges including two Hindi colleges.

"It has been a very fruitful meeting. The Chief Minister offered us the scope to narrate our difficulties and at the same time invited opinion on how to enhance higher education. It is surely a move in the right direction," a Vice-Chancellor who attended the meeting said.

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