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No takers for Centre's model degree colleges.

THE HUMAN resource ministry's ( HRD) much talked- about ' model' degree colleges to be set up in 374 educationally backward districts seems to have run into rough weather.

Although it's been a year since the scheme got cabinet clearance in January last year, it is yet to take off. Most states are unwilling to bear the financial burden of setting up these colleges.

The states will have to bear two- thirds of the total cost needed to set up each college. Punjab and Karnataka are the only exceptions as the governments of these two states have shown eagerness to set up the colleges.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had first announced the setting up of the model degree colleges in 2007. Subsequently, the HRD ministry announced the decision to set up 374 such colleges in ' educationally backward districts' -- where the enrolment ratio is lower than the national average of 12.4 -- across the country.

The cost of setting each of these colleges was pegged at ` 8 crore. The Centre announced that it would fund one- third of the cost, i. e., ` 2.67 crore, while the states would have to pay the rest. For Jammu and Kashmir and the north- eastern states, however, the central government decided to foot 50 per cent of the cost, i. e., ` 4 crore.

The central assistance of ` 2.67 crore for the rest of the states will be a one- time grant while the state governments will take care of the recurring expenditure.

The idea behind setting up these colleges was that they would serve as ' model' for other institutions inculcating many of the educational reforms, such as the semester system, credit transfer etc.

However, the states are reluctant to open the institutions.

HRD ministry sources said states such as Nagaland had made it clear that they had no requirement for such a scheme.

" As it is, their existing college seats go vacant," a ministry official said.

Himachal Pradesh, too, had rejected the scheme and has instead proposed that it would like to expand the existing infrastructure. However, under the existing norms of the scheme, any college set up before 2008 cannot make use of the funds under this scheme.

Only Punjab, with 13 ' educationally backward districts', has shown interest and started the process of submitting the proposals to the University Grants Commission for clearance. Karnataka, with 20 educationally backward districts, has also showed keenness on setting up these colleges.

According to the scheme, 200 of these colleges were to be set up in the first phase during the remaining period of the 11th Five- Year Plan.

About 90 such colleges were be set up in minority- concentrated districts to help improve the enrolment ratio there.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jan 2, 2011
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