Asking policy makers to shift gear and link education with employability, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Tuesday called for broadening the scope of academic activities at North and South Campuses of the University of Kashmir (KU) at Baramulla and Anantnag so that they serve as full-fledged centres of higher learning. He said satellite campuses have been lacking vibrancy for a pretty long time, for which urgent steps are required to be taken to infuse new life so that they make youngsters ready for ever-expanding job market. “These campuses are KU’s arms. Even after so many years, academic activities at North and South campuses are at low ebb,” he observed. The Chief Minister said this after inaugurating the Science & Technology Block of the College of Engineering at Zakura Campus, here today. Minister for Education, Naeem Akhtar, Advisor to the Chief Minister, Prof. Amitabh Mattoo and the Vice Chancellor KU, Prof. Khurshid Iqbal Andrabi, were present on the occasion. Asking the youngsters to brace up for cutthroat competition in the field of education, Mufti Sayeed asked the Education Minister, Advisor and the VC KU to put their heads together and frame a concept plan to optimally utilize prime land that has been provided to Kashmir University to establish its North and South Campuses. “We have to make best use of the offsite campuses. KU has to be a pioneer in quality education so that we prepare a market-oriented human resource,” he said, while asking the academicians present in the gathering to take ownership of building capacities of our young and talented youth. Highlighting the emerging demand for top quality engineers, the Chief Minister urged the Vice Chancellor to include market-driven streams in the college’s curriculum. He said with the state witnessing a construction boom, the requirement for engineers is bound to grow. “I would like to see in near future a state-of-the-art engineering university emerges on the state’s horizon he hoped. Asking the Kashmir University to conceive a model institute in skill development, the Chief Minister noted with concern the dwindling interest of young artisans in world-famous handicraft industry, which sustained the state’s economy during difficult times. He cited the example of countries like Germany, which have taken a lead in the field of skill development. The Chief Minister observed that handicraft is threatening to become a part-time activity because of diminishing returns. “If anyone has given us global identity, it is our handicraft. We face the challenge of reviving this activity, for which skill development institutes can play a pivotal role in craft entrepreneurship,” he added. Describing universities as caretaker of state’s greatest asset, Mufti Sayeed urged upon the premier institutes to fully utilize the financial assistance and grants provided by MHRD under various Central schemes, in particular those provided for development of infrastructure in offsite campuses. The Chief Minister observed that institutes of higher learning should take a leaf out of benchmark universities and restructure its teacher-student ratio so that individual attention is paid to low-performing students. The Minister for Education, in his address, said he was pleased that importance of education had caught the imagination of the people. He said with job market becoming ever more competitive, we have to take J&K into an era where our postgraduates and graduates do not become disabled certificate-holders. “Both Kashmir and Jammu universities have to assume the significant role of knowledge leaders and job facilitators,” he stressed. Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Mattoo said the Chief Minister had tasked him to prepare a concept paper on granting financial autonomy to the universities. Keeping in view the infrastructure boom worldwide and the demand for civil engineers, he urged upon KU VC to offer civil engineering stream to the students at the newly-established College of Engineering. The Science & Technology Block of College of Engineering, which is the only engineering college in the government sector in the valley, has been constructed in two years at a cost of Rs. 6.5 crore. With the addition of the new block, the college will have facilities of six more classrooms and eight new laboratories, which will pave way for introduction of new engineering streams. Presently, the college of engineering is offering B.Tech courses in electronics, mechanical and electrical engineering.
2015 Kashmir Despatch