'Teachers Must Play A Key Role In Ensuring Development Of State'
by Tapati Mukhopadhyay
THE 78th state conference and 82nd annual general meeting of the West Bengal College and University Teachers’ Association (WBCUTA) was held on November 15 - 16, 2008 at Malda College in the district of Malda, West Bengal. The venue was designated ‘Durga Kinkar Bhattacharjee Manch’, after late Professor Durga Kinkar Bhattacharjee, the legendary principal of Malda College and an eminent educationist.
Around 2000 delegates representing almost all colleges and universities from all over the state of West Bengal attended the conference. The proceedings began with the hoisting of the flag of the association by Professor Subimal Sen, chairman of West Bengal State Council of Higher Education and president of the conference. The conference was inaugurated by Professor Sudarsan Ray Choudhuri, minister for higher education, government of West Bengal.
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, chief minister of West Bengal, was the chief guest of the conference. Addressing the gathering in the evening of the inaugural day, he focused on the issues of West Bengal’s industrial development, the opposition's desperate attempts to disrupt it, the need for building awareness among the people and the role of teachers in this important task. The chief minister stressed that the present struggle needs to be resolved in favor of better progress and development of the state. After granting one State-funded university, i.e., the University of Gour Banga, to Malda district, the Left Front government would also set up a government medical college here, stated the chief minister. The district which remained stagnant in developmental activities, is now taking a new turn, especially with the initiative of the Left Front government of West Bengal.
A state level seminar on the topic ‘Higher Education and Employability’ was also held on this occasion. Professor Surabhi Bandopadhaya, vice chancellor of newly established University of Gour Banga chaired the first session of the seminar. The vice chancellor of North Bengal University, Professor Arunabha Basu Majumdar, chaired the second session of the seminar. Professor Thomas Joseph, president of AIFUCTO, Professor Tapati Mukhopadhaya, vice president of AIFUCTO presented their papers on the topic. Dr Abdus Sattar, minister of state for minority development and madrasah education department, government of West Bengal, Professor Asok Barman, general secretary, AIFUCTO, Professor Tarun Kumar Patra, general secretary, WBCUTA, Professor Anil Bhattacharya, Professor Mrinmoy Bhattacharya, Professor Sudhir Roy were the distinguished speakers on the subject.
Given the present context, the topic of the seminar was quite relevant and from the deliberations of the seminar it became clear that employability in a region is closely linked with the policies of higher education, its curriculum, its perspective plan and overall government expenditures on education. It is intricately inter-related with the overall process of development. Developmental activities in all three sectors (primary, secondary, and tertiary) will be the driving force for the future employment opportunities of the state.
Sailen Sarkar, minister for parliamentary affairs and environment, government of West Bengal, and the chief patron of the conference, was present for the entire duration of the conference. Several ministers of the government of West Bengal along with some MLAs were also present in the conference.
The annual general meeting was held in the evening on the concluding day. WBCUTA general secretary Professor Tarun Kumar Patra placed a comprehensive report which included highlights on the present international and national situation with special reference to education in West Bengal. The report was then thoroughly discussed. A total of 58 delegates spoke covering a wide range of issues, starting from college-level problems to state-level issues like protection of agricultural land etc. It was a confluence of different thoughts, representative of the democratic functioning of WBCUTA. Many women delegates, both from city and rural colleges, delivered speeches which continued till late evening.
At the end, election took place in which Professor Harish Sarkar took over as president of WBCUTA for the next two years with the retirement of Professor Subir Mukharjee. Professor Tarun Kumar Patra, Professor Sruti Nath Praharaj and Professor Kalyanmoy Ganguly got re-elected as general secretary and vice presidents respectively. Professor Suman Bandopadhaya was re-elected as treasurer of the association along with a team of 24 new executive committee members.
In the history of WBCUTA, the 78th conference and 82nd Annual General Meeting of the association will be remembered as a conference which gave the movement of the teachers of West Bengal a new dimension.
Professor Sadiqul Islam, national secretary, AIFUCTO and member of the executive committee, WBCUTA was the secretary and Dr Anirudha Sengupta, principal, Malda College was the president of the Reception Committee. For proper conduct of the conference 13 sub-committees were constituted and each and every committee performed to the best of their capability. Overall the reception committee's contribution for the coordination and consolidation of the conference deserves a special mention.