VISAKHAPATNAM : The disturbing incident reported at Mother College in Paderu, where students skipped Intermediate Exam en masse, seems to be just the tip of an iceberg. District Vocational Education Officer (DVEO) T Nagesh Kumar, who was assigned to probe the mass absence of students has reported irregularities in student admission at four colleges in an alleged attempt to swindle government scholarship funds and grants for Scheduled Tribe (ST), Scheduled Caste (SC) and Backward Class (BC) students. It seems the colleges, in connivance with officials from the Board of Intermediate Education (BIE) have tried to siphon government funds intended for education of ST/SC/BC students by submitting a list of fake students.
More skeletons seem to be tumbling out of the closet as an enquiry conducted by DVEO T Nagesh Kumar has revealed that at least four private colleges - Mother College, Mother Teresa College, Lakshmi Prasanna College (all located in Paderu) and Gnana Sagar Junior College in Hukumpeta have availed of the scholarship fee and grant for SC/ST/BC students by producing a fake list of students.
According to highly placed sources, Mother Junior College had submitted a list of 65 Backward Class students, which was found to be false. Mother Teresa Vocational College submitted a list of 17 Scheduled Caste students to the Board of Intermediate and claimed the grant towards their tuition fee and hostel charges. All the 82 students were reportedly fake.
The whole affair was exposed after the reported presence of CCTV cameras installed in sensitive examination centres was cited as one of the reasons why even a single student did not turn up for the exam, prompting Education Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao to launch a probe.
The sources said that the college management has claimed the grants towards tuition fee and hostel charges for fake students from BC Welfare and SC Welfare departments. It is also learnt that both the SC and BC Welfare departments have already sanctioned the money for about 50 per cent of the students.
According to sources, Lakshmi Prasanna Junior College submitted a list of 18 ST students and 2 BC students while Gnana Sagar College submitted a list of 16 ST students to BIE, while also claiming the government fund towards scholarship and hostel charges from the respective welfare departments.
The government has promoted establishment of private colleges in the agency and remote rural areas in a bid to provide education to the marginalised communities.
“In fact, the colleges should give priority to tribal students in the agency area. If there are no students from the community the managements can admit SC and BC students. For each SC and ST student the government pays `10,000 per annum including tuition fee, and `6,500 per annum for BC students. The district RIO should visit the college and certify the students in person. The RIO or a BIE official should also check the private colleges periodically. It is mysterious that the four colleges managed to avail of government funds for the last two years producing lists of fake students without ever being found by any official,” a senior BIE official pointed out.
Replying to a query regarding the involvement of BIE officials in the scam, the senior official said that the possibility cannot be ruled out. “It is not possible to swindle funds without the knowledge of the BoI officials. However, a thorough investigation will reveal the facts,” the official added.
Meanwhile, DVEO T Nagesh Kumar, who was deputed to probe the incident said the he has completed the probe. “I will submit my enquiry report to the Commissioner of Intermediate Education and Visakhapatnam district collector,” Nagesh Kumar told Express.