Patna: Bihar`s six government-run engineering colleges have fewer than 40 teachers, including principals, to cater to over 4,000 students, triggering resentment among them and forcing thousands of others to study in other states.
The acute shortage of teachers in six colleges can be gauged from the fact that there are over 300 vacancies for teachers, according to college authorities.
Principals of all six engineering colleges say they have been managing everything with the help of guest faculty members, but repeated protests and hunger strikes in recent months by students to highlight their plight belie the claims.
Students of these colleges in Bihar are regretting their decision to stay and study in their own state, given the acute shortage of teachers that badly hit laboratory and workshop activities.
"I simply curse my fate for opting to stay back in Bihar, instead of going outside to study engineering like thousands of other students from the state," said Surya Prakash, a fourth year student of the engineering college in Motihari.
"We will be passing engineering without doing anything in the lab or workshop," he said.
Rajesh Kumar, another student of the same college, expressed similar sentiments.
"I was selected for three engineering colleges in West Bengal, Karnataka and Orissa but decided to stay in Bihar. It was a blunder on my part," he said.
The two are among thousands of engineering students who are unhappy with lack of facilities, including shortage of teachers and unavailability of basic infrastructure in six engineering colleges.
The problem is long-standing.
Last year, the Nitish Kumar government was embarrassed when the opposition raised the issue that polytechnic faculty have been deputed as teachers for taking classes in the four new engineering colleges opened four years ago by the government.
However, the officials concerned downplay the problems.
"We manage everything with the help of a guest faculty," said S.N. Ojha, principal of the Motihari Engineering College.
The college has only seven permanent teachers to teach its 750 students.
The Chandi engineering college also has only seven teachers, and the same situation persists in the Gaya and Darbhanga engineering colleges also, according to college authorities.
"Students have been completing engineering courses virtually without lab and workshop work in Motihari and Chandi. Sometimes, the students were taken to other colleges for lab work," admitted a senior official of the state science and technology department, which oversees the engineering colleges.
Angry over the pathetic condition of engineering colleges and the government`s apathy in resolving the issues, the students of four new engineering colleges, set up by the Nitish Kumar government, began an indefinite hunger strike in Patna Oct 18.
The students, however, called off their protest following the government`s assurances to provide them the necessary facilities in their engineering colleges.
According to an estimate, more than 200,000 students from Bihar have been stydying in engineering colleges, both government and private, outside the state, including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and in hundreds of other colleges in Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Pune, Bhubaneswar, Bhopal, Jaipur and even those in Imphal and Srinagar.