Thursday, 2 October 2014

SOL teachers smell a rat in DU's costly expansion plan

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Development Authority had allotted a 2,000 sq m plot in Tahirpur, east Delhi, to DU's School of Open Learning at a token price of Re 1. Nine years later, in 2014, there is no sign of any educational activity. SOL now plans to set up 22 study centres in DU colleges for Rs 12 crore. Teachers allege that the plan is to actually siphon off funds and cover up the non-utilization of the money for expansion of the infrastructure for OBC students in these colleges. The University Grants Commission has also instituted an inquiry to probe the diversion of OBC funds meant to buy laptops for students enrolled under the four-year-undergraduate programme, which was scrapped earlier this year.

Teachers are opposing the move, saying this is "nothing but a scam". J Khuntiya, a senior faculty member at SOL, says, "There is no logic in spending such a huge sum collected from students to pay principals and other college staff for the work that was being done at one-fourth of the proposed amount. It will certainly give rise to a big scam as there are no checks and balances. The governing body doesn't have the power to take away the work performed by the SOL teachers."

The teachers' contention is that SOL authorities are trying to divert the money to develop college infrastructure instead of developing its own facility into a state-of-the-art one in the interest of its students. "The proposal is to spend Rs 22 lakh on each study centre only to conduct classes on Sundays. Students will not get to use facilities like library, examinations and admissions in the colleges. Then why waste so much money when in a much tighter budget, the best resources and study centres can be created?" asked Khuntiya.

Meanwhile, on September 19, the staff council of SOL raised objections to this plan, saying that in previous years, the school used to spend Rs 3.5 crore to Rs 4.5 crore for organizing personal contact programme classes at various centres. In a letter to the chairperson of SOL's governing body, it alleged that "you have already allocated close to Rs 12 crore (a jump of nearly four times) for the same in the current academic session. The escalation in the cost of PCP to tune of Rs 7 crore to Rs 8 crore is not due to any value addition but because of provisions made by you to pay Rs 25,000 per month (four Sundays) to the principal of the college being used as a centre, Rs 16,000 per month to a co-coordinator who will do the same work as the principal and Rs 16,000 to the administrative officer of the college. Further, the decision to pay Rs 25,000 per month (as against Rs 3,000 only currently) to the principals and Rs16,000 to the coordinators also falls foul of DU rules and the UGC norms."

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