Fulfilling Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s recent promise in the State Legislative Assembly, the Higher Education Department on Friday issued an order (GO Ms No 97) announcing the setting up of six new Government Arts and Science Colleges in educationally backward districts this academic year. Three of these colleges will be located in western districts, two in northern districts and one in central Tamil Nadu.
Hailing the decision academics pointed out that the Higher Education Department was establishing Government colleges after a long gap breaking away from the unhealthy trend of setting up university constituent colleges.
Sources said the arts and science colleges will come up at Hosur (Krishnagiri district), Kumarapalayam (Namakkal), Kangeyam (Tirupur), Uthiramerur (Kancheepuram), Peravurani (Thanjavur) and Thittakudi (Cuddalore).
To start with the colleges will offer five undergraduate degree programmes - BA Tamil, BA English, BCom, BSc Mathematics and BSc Computer Science.
On April 9, in a suo motu statement, Jayalalithaa had announced that a dozen Government Arts and Science Colleges will be established in rural areas to enable access to higher education for disadvantaged students.
Tamil Nadu presently has 62 Government Arts and Science colleges and seven Government Colleges of Education.
“Barring the Kamarajar Government Arts College in Surandai in Tirunelveli district, all the existing Government Arts Colleges were established at least over 25 years ago,” pointed out Professor M Ravichandran, vice president, All India Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation (AIFUCTO).
Thanking the State Government, Tamil Nadu Government Collegiate Teachers Association (TNGCTA) general secretary L Prathaban said the decision to open these institutions “is a shot in the arm of public-funded education.” He hoped the State Government would open the remaining six colleges too.
The new colleges will function out of temporary campuses until such time own buildings are constructed.
“Over the past decade, successive Governments were only establishing arts and science colleges as constituent units of the respective regional universities. These institutions were at mercy of the university syndicates and teachers recruited on an ad hoc basis were paid poor salaries in violation of UGC rules.
The present order of the State Government breaks the dry spell of decades and is worthy of national emulation,” Ravichandran said.
The TNGCTA has been demanding that the 35 university constituent colleges too be converted into Government colleges.
The other five colleges, for which orders are yet to be issued, are proposed to be set up in Sivakasi (Virudhunagar district), Kovilpatti (Thoothukudi), Kadaladi (Ramanathapuram), Karambakudi (Pudukottai) and Tiruvadanai (Ramanathapuram).
Besides, Jayalalithaa had promised a women’s college in Karimangalam in Dharmapuri district.