Saturday, Jun 14, 2003
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By K. Ramachandran
All candidates getting admission to the First Year of undergraduate (non-computer science) programmes in government/constituent colleges are being compelled to pay a fee (ranging from Rs. 1,000-2,000) for a Computer Literacy Programme (CLP) in addition to the tuition fee of Rs. 1,000. The fee is collected during admission itself. In their anxiety to get a seat for their ward, parents, even from the weaker sections, are paying the new levy without demur. Already, the Tamil Nadu Government Collegiate Teachers Association had in mid-May urged the Directorate of Collegiate Education to modify the relevant order and make the CLP optional for students and not to make the Rs. 2,000 levy compulsory for all.
The issue began with the Director of Collegiate Education issuing a circular to all principals of the constituent colleges on April 30 (on the basis of a G.O dated March 19) stating that students joining non-computer science course in the college should compulsorily join the CLP. The circular had also directed the principals to incorporate the order in the 2003-04 prospectus and ensure that all I year non-computer science degree students were enrolled in the CLP "without any relaxation and the fee should be collected at the time of admission itself." Teachers say the Government recently gave "some relaxation" with respect to the amount to be collected for students from the MBC and SC/ST sections, but still the money is being collected compulsorily from all students.
Enquiries with admission authorities in Chennai and nearby areas reveal a simmering discontent over the move, especially among teachers.
The CLP, began a few years ago, had not got off well, though the private providers of the programme SRM and NIIT had to be paid the promised amount as per the agreement pertaining to the CLP. A teacher in a north Chennai college notes that students seeking admission to the BA/B.Sc courses in government colleges are from the "poorest sections" who struggle even to pay the annual fee. The `compulsory levy' benefits none but the private providers, he says.
Enquiries also show that under the CLP the students are provided knowledge on basic software and Internet use. Teachers say this programme will cost "much less for the students if it is given by local providers in the neighbourhood."
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