Protest hinders classes of Agriculture and Forestry UniversityThe indefinite protest launched by the students and professors of Agriculture and Forestry University in Rampur, Chitwan, has left the academic environment in one of country’s leading technical institutions in chaos.
The indefinite protest launched by the students and professors of Agriculture and Forestry University in Rampur, Chitwan, has left the academic environment in one of country’s leading technical institutions in chaos.
Various organisations of professors and students, both close to ruling Nepal Communist Party and main opposition Nepali Congress, have been protesting against the university’s decision to grant affiliations to eight private colleges on July 4. Daily classes have not taken place since November 6, as the agitating students and professors are busy organising pickets and rallies, demanding that the university’s executive council withdraw the affiliations extended to private colleges.
On Saturday, the protesting students’ organisations staged demonstrations in Bharatpur after the university commenced the enrolment process for bachelor’s level. The university had issued a notice on November 6, scheduling entrance tests for agriculture and forestry studies on December 6 and December 13 respectively.
Following the protest, a meeting of Council of Ministers held on July 30 had decided to scrap the university’s decision of granting affiliation to eight private colleges. But the decision was challenged by Chhabilal Kandel, of Sidanta College, and Shiva Kumar Dangi, of Jibika Agriculture Cooperatives, at the Supreme Court on August 16. On September 25, the apex court issued an interim order telling the university to disregard the Cabinet’s decision.
As per the court’s directive, the university extended affiliations to the eight colleges, much to the anger of the protesting students and professors., The SC has scheduled the final hearing on the case for January 10, 2019.
Ishwori Prasad Dhakal, the university’s vice-chancellor, said the dates for the entrance test were announced after court cleared the way for the university to go ahead with the affiliation process.
He claimed that the eight private colleges had completed the necessary legal process to get the affiliation.
“The university had asked for proposals for affiliation four years ago. Twenty-four colleges submitted their proposals and eight were granted affiliation this year after they met the basic standards,” said Dhakal.
Seven private colleges from Jhapa, Sunsari, Lalitpur, Nawalparasi, Banke, Surkhet districts were granted affiliations for agriculture while a college at Gaidakot in Nawalparasi was permitted affiliation for forestry studies.
The agitating students and professors have accused that the university of “commercialising” the agricultural and forestry studies.
“It is almost sure that the education quality will go down after these private colleges start teaching forestry and agriculture. The university is not ready to extend affiliations to other colleges because it is itself struggling to run its programmes well,” said Udit Prakash Sigdel, chairman of Nepal Progressive Professors’ Organisation.
He asserted that the private colleges could somehow manage academic classes but they could not carry out research in the present situation. According to Sigdel, a student can complete bachelor’s level in Rs 30,000 to 150,000 in government institutions affiliated to the university.
“Once these studies are available in private colleges, students would have to pay up to Rs 600,000,” Sigdel added.