Shimla:It’s International Girl Child Day and the country’s oldest institution of higher education for girls â€“ St Bede’s College, is threatened with closure because reduced grants leave it fending rising staff salary bills, which the all women management is unable to meet.
“We have knocked the doors of the government, urging them not to reduce our grant from 95% percent, otherwise we will be left with no choice but to close down the college,” says Molly Abraham, principal St Bede’s. Our Delhi Provincial has already asked us to draw up plans for closing down, she added.
Modifying the grants-in-aid rules, the government from March, 2008 has reduced grants to all private colleges from 95 to 50 percent.
We face a double whammy – the 1994 grant rules provide that pay scales and allowances to staff be at par with government pay as per UGC scales and now cut in grants leaves us saddled with bills, which we cannot meet. For the moment we are raising loans to meet expenditure, said Abraham.
Under the 1994 rules 4 private colleges got grants but now there are about 20 colleges sharing the cake.
Secretary education PC Dhiman says, “my hands are tied by a 2006 High Court judgment that directs us to disburse grants among other colleges also on a equitable basis and not just the 4 colleges that were getting it since 1994.”
Says Abraham “Raising fee structure defeats our objectives of providing affordable girls education and even the state has made higher education for girls free, says the principal. Implementing 6th Pay Commission recommendations here will simply force us shut down.
St Bede’s happens to be the only college in the state that enjoys A+ grade NAAC but it charges a per month fee of Rs 50 from undergraduate arts students that was fixed in 1970 to partially meet rising staff salary bills.
Counted among Asia’s first exclusive women colleges that was opened in 1904, it has received support by way of grants-in-aid from the central and state governments.
Started as an institute that began with a teacher training program, its alumni include, princesses, famous actresses, doctors and other professionals who have carved reputations in their fields of work.
Old Bedians include, Pratibha Singh, parliamentarian and wife of former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, Priety Zinta, daughter of former chief minister Shanta Kumar, grand daughter of education minister ID Dhiman and a host of others.
“In 1967, when there was a move to close down St Bede’s and open up JMC College Delhi, it was at the behest of the then chief minister YS Parmar and other citizens that the sisters running the institute decided to keep it operational.”
Today JMC College enjoys a constituent college status with Delhi University getting 95% grant from UGC and we are struggling just to keep the college open, concludes Abraham.