The decision by KV Pendharkar College, a popular government-aided institution in Dombivli, to convert to a completely unaided educational institute by closing down its aided sections has been met with opposition from former students of this nearly 50-year-old college. Alumni have united against this decision under the banner of ‘Save Pendharkar College.’ Meanwhile, senior teachers from the aided section are seeking intervention from all possible authorities.

The issue surfaced when the college management sent notices to its teaching and non-teaching staff, approximately 55 employees from the aided section, instructing them to remain seated in a designated room during duty hours. The notice, dated May 31, stated, “They can use toilet and canteen facilities but are not allowed to go to any other part of the college. Action will be taken against those who violate the rule.”

The move drew the ire of staff, including senior professors. “We are all appointed to approved posts by the government, and our salary is issued by the office of the Joint Director of Higher Education, Maharashtra. But the college management has unilaterally decided to operate as an unaided educational institution from the academic year 2024-25,” said one professor, adding that they have approached authorities against the unjust move.

An aided college receives a salary grant from the state government, whereas an unaided section does not receive any government aid. The Maharashtra Union of Secular Teachers (MUST), on behalf of the teaching and non-teaching staff of this college, has written to the state’s higher and technical education minister, Chandrakant Patil, seeking an inquiry into the complaint.

Dr. Vijay Pawar, President of MUST, questioned the management’s decision, stating, “As per rules, any aided college cannot close without the required permission from the state government. In this case, such permission has already been denied. The Deputy Director of Education quashed the management’s application for the Junior College in a letter dated February 3. The Joint Director of Education, covering the degree college, also denied giving any such permission.”

Festive offer

Dr. Pawar further demanded the appointment of an administrator for the college until the issue is resolved. He said, “An educational institution, especially an aided one, is a charitable trust for the benefit of the public. With this move, the management of this Dombivli college is either aiming for profit-making or intends to close down the college.”

The college’s alumni have formed a group called ‘Save Pendharkar College’ and plan to hold a protest outside the college on Monday. Sonu Survase, a founding member of the group and a former student, said, “This is such an old college in Dombivli. Everyone is shocked by the recent developments. The fee structure of the aided section is affordable for common people. Once the college is entirely unaided, who will regulate the fee structure and donations?”

However, the college management, Dombivali Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, has denied any plans to close down. Confirming the decision to convert to an unaided institution, President Prabhakar Desai said, “The move is only to allow management to run the college effectively, as inadequate government support for the aided section was making it difficult.”

When pointed out that the management’s requests have already been denied, Desai said, “We have already moved to court.”

Dr. Vijay Narkhede, Joint Director of Higher Education for the Konkan region, Panvel, said, “The college’s management has passed such a resolution. They approached this office with an approval request, which we have already denied.”

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