Punjab’s Department of Agriculture has decided to crack the whip and may prohibit private colleges offering bachelors degree in Agriculture from holding fresh student admissions if they fail to comply with norms under the Punjab State Council for Agricultural Education Act, 2017.
As per details, out of 117 colleges, 33 had not complied with rules that mandated that such educational institutions have proper infrastructure to provide agriculture education to students in 2020.
The government had, however, allowed them a little leeway due to the Covid pandemic and given them time till June 20, 2022, to comply with the norms. The authorities of some of these private colleges had sought a further extension of the June deadline.
These private colleges, like others, had been working under the affiliation of Punjabi University, Punjab Agriculture University and Guru Nanak Dev University.
“However, several colleges have still not sent in their compliance reports. We will hold a meeting on the issue on Friday and find out how many such colleges have actually not complies with the norms. Those that haven’t may be barred from admitting students from the new academic session onwards,” a government official told The Indian Express.
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A survey by the government had revealed that a number of colleges offering the four-year BSc in Agriculture course after Class 12 had failed to comply with the rules as mentioned in the Punjab State Council for Agriculture Education Act 2017.
Some of these colleges just had two rooms in the name of infrastructure for agriculture, which wasn’t enough for providing students with practical on-field
knowledge. Some others did not have enough staff.
In November 2019, the state had asked all such institutes to submit their status within 15 days, or face strict action. The colleges were then threatened that the recognition offered to these institutes would be taken away, starting January 1, 2020, if they failed to comply with the regulations.
However, the government later got involved in managing the Covid crisis that swept through the country and the state Cabinet gave an extension for compliance to these colleges.
Officials said that if the government did indeed decide to crack the whip this time around, approximately 6,000 students would suffer. The violations that these private colleges were told to rectify include lack of proper infrastructures such as classrooms, no arrangements for practicals along with unqualified faculty. As per the rules in the Agriculture Education Act, private colleges are supposed to allocate 50 acres of land for the purpose of conducting practicals, which is seldom followed by these colleges.
The colleges had in turn requested the government to reduce the size of the agricultural land for the purpose of conducting practicals. As these colleges were not offering Masters degree courses in agriculture they did not need a such large space for practicals, they stated. For B.Sc Agriculture courses, the agricultural land was required only for demonstration purposes.