Even as Jorhat gears up to oppose the conversion of Assam Women’s University (AWU) into a Technical Institute, Assam Education and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma assured that the teachers would not lose their jobs and the students would be taken care of.
In response to the first query by this correspondent through SMS, regarding the authenticity of the conversion of AWU into a Technical Institute through another Act, the minister replied in the affirmative.
To the second and third queries: ‘Another area of concern is what will happen to the degrees of the students who have passed out and of the ones still studying,’ and ‘What will happen to the teachers. Will they all lose their jobs or will they be absorbed in other colleges and universities’, the minister responded stating: “Nothing of that sort will happen. We will take care of them”.
The people are, however, not happy at the idea of conversion which essentially translates into degrading an established University.
The citizens’ meet held on Friday had put across the point that when a university is established, the next step should be expansion and upgrading.
The AWU was set up in 2014 after an Act was passed in the State Assembly during the then Tarun Gogoi-led government. The University is housed in a grain storage facility of the Assam Agricultural University at Rowriah after hasty renovations were undertaken to get it off steam as fast as possible.
The University with 15 departments, being run by teachers all appointed on ad hoc basis having no academic council and Vice Chancellor, has Assam Agricultural University Vice Chancellor KM Bujarbaruah as is its mentor along with a few other officials delegated by the government on temporary basis. It has more than 500 students and two batches of students have already passed out.
Concerns were raised regarding the fate of the students, who had passed out and those still studying and what would happen to their degrees as well as the future of the teachers who were working on an ad hoc basis since inception.
The consensus was that the University had become a pawn in the game of political upmanship.
All the speakers were unanimous in their opinion as to why a technical institute should be established at the cost of the University, instead of being a separate entity under the University.
The citizens’ meet resolved to support and mobilise public support if the students and teachers were required to agitate in future. It also demanded that the State government take urgent steps to establish the Assam Women’s University as a full-fledged one so that the institute is not deprived of UGC benefits.
In Fridays’ meeting, students of AWU, Sujata Baruah, Geemoni Mishra and Chunmoyee Gogoi, who were office-bearers of the students’ body of the University said that the uncertainty was eating away their peace of mind. “We are students, we have come to study, not agitate, ” the students said.
They also revealed that not a single memorandum to the Assam Chief Minister or the Education Minister had received a response.
The speakers who participated in the meeting were from all walks of life. They included Devabrata Sharma, Principal, Jorhat College, Jayanta Madhav Dutta, a teacher, Binita Dutta, former Principal of Jorhat BEd College, Santana Sharma, Principal of Garmur Jatiya Vidyalaya, writer Rajlakshmi Sharma Baruah, Kabita Rajguru, former teacher and Principal of DC Girls’ College, advocate Hem Baruah, Rofique Ahmed and Press Club, Jorhat president Niranjan Mahanta.