State not ready for PU-Schools merger: Principals

Schools and PU colleges are opposing the move by the state government to merge classes 9 & 10 with first and second year pre-university (PU), as they are of the opinion that this

As the state government gets set to bifurcate education, merging Classes 9 and 10 with first and second year pre-university (PU), schools and PU colleges are up in arms, saying the move may do more harm than good.

In his budget speech on Friday, chief minister Siddaramaiah had announced “a three-year action plan to bring secondary and pre-university education under single administration”. Operative arrangements would be formulated, he had said.

It would result in Classes 1 to 8 with one entity, and Classes 9 and 10, and PU I and II with another. It would also mean that the mad rush which is there currently for the I PU classes will shift to Class 9. Schools and junior (PU) colleges are now worried over how to go about extending these classes (schools till II PU) and junior colleges (till Class 9) to remain relevant in the proposed academic structure.

Mounting concerns

Satyanarayana PM, principal of Lal Bahadur Shastri School, said, “Where is the infrastructure for schools to merge with PU colleges? The school atmosphere is completely different from that of PU. I don’t think it can be an easy merger.”

Another PU principal told Mirror, “The news has sent PU colleges into a tizzy as they are wondering if they would remain functional in the next few years as the school lobby is stronger than the PU college lobby.”

Explaining the rationale behind their concerns, Bengaluru PU College Principals’ Association general secretary KR Manjunath said, “Currently, Karnataka and Kerala are the two states where PU system is still functioning and doing very well. PU education has its own character and standards, while school education is like an ocean. When merged with Classes 9 and 10, the entire PU name would be at stake. If we look at CBSE, those teaching here are called postgraduate teachers, while those teaching PU are called lecturers. However, postgraduate teachers are paid better than lecturers.”

He said the biggest problem with the merger would be infrastructure. A PU science class requires a good laboratory, which comes with separate rooms and furniture. However, most schools many not be able to afford this. Some of the junior colleges share infrastructure with schools, with the two working in shifts. If they are merged, they can’t work in shifts anymore, he reasoned.

Broader differences

“The schools are supervised by Block Education Officer and receive funds from the zilla panchayats. The PU education, however, comes under the deputy director and funds are transferred from the government. A PU principal’s workload includes 10 hours of teaching in a week, excluding administration and exams. However, the school principal’s workload will be much more,” said Manjunath.

In Karnataka, PU colleges offer electronics as a substitute for biology, he said. However, there are no such courses at the national level. So, what will be the future of these courses, he questioned. The unanimous suggestion, therefore, is to keep PU under school for administrative purpose, but let PU continue as it is now, he said.

State’s rationale

But, why is the state government pushing for the merger? According to government officials, as per the Govindan Committee, Classes 11 and 12 should be part of the higher secondary school. If it is done so, then the state government will be entitled for more central funds. The RTE (Right to Education) may be extended till Class 12, once this is done. “We are not against it, but it should be done in a proper way,” said Manjunath.

However, D Shashi Kumar, general secretary, Karnataka Associated Management of English Medium Schools, said, “The proposed move by the state government will definitely be a death knell for schools.”