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No takers among MP MLAs for open varsity’s higher education offer

The Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker has pushed the Bhoj (Open) University's proposal, but the legislators have not responded to it so far

Written by Iram Siddique | Bhopal |
December 17, 2021 5:33:49 pm
The Bhoj University VC said that given the MLAs' hectic daily life, they thought an open university would be more suitable for them giving them the flexibility of taking exams anywhere in the state. (File)

About 64 MLAs in the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly may not have completed their graduation with as many as 34 of the legislators having studied up to Class 12 and 9 up to class 5, but there are no takers among them for a state open university’s higher education offer pushed by the Speaker.

This came to light as not a single MLA showed interest to a letter sent by the Vice Chancellor of the Bhoj (Open) University, Jayant Sonawane, urging the legislators to enrol in the university and complete their higher education through distance learning.

In a letter addressed to the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker, Girish Gautam, on June 29, the Bhopal-based Bhoj University’s VC stated, “It has come to my knowledge that many MLAs could not complete their graduation and post-graduation due to unavoidable circumstance, but now aiming at academic growth, if MLAs would like to enrol in Bhoj university, it would be a matter of pride for us.”

The letter was announced in the Assembly during the monsoon session, even as the Speaker also got it mailed, through his secretariat, to all the MLAs. However, six months down the line, not a single MLA has responded to the VC’s offer for higher education so far.

When asked about the VC’s letter, Gautam told The Indian Express that aspiring for further education is always welcome, but in this case, he said, it was a “necessity” as the Vidhan Sabha (Assembly) was working towards digitizing its records and going completely paperless.

“In sync with the vision of our Prime Minister, we are aiming at turning completely digital with MLAs asked to read from laptops or tablets, instead of sheets of paper handed to them. In such a situation, they would need not only technical education but also basic education, which will be a necessity for them to be fully functional during the session.”

In this context, the Speaker said, he urged MLAs to complete their basic and higher education. When asked about legislators not responding to the VC’s letter, Gautam said, “Government provides an assistant to every MLA to do research for them. But once everything is digitized, these MLAs will have to work on their own. In that situation, when the MLA sitting next to you will be swiftly operating a computer, while they would be struggling, it will fill them with an ‘inferiority complex’ leaving no way out except equipping themselves with the need of the hour (education).”

The Bhoj University VC told The Indian Express that given the MLAs’ hectic daily life, they thought an open university would be more suitable for them giving them the flexibility of taking exams anywhere in the state. “But when we checked with the officials at Vidhan Sabha to get a sense of how many MLAs had enrolled, we realised that none of them had come forward,” said Sonawane.

Commenting on the matter, Karan Singh Verma, a BJP MLA from Sehore’s Icchawar constituency, who has studied up to Class 12, said, “I’m a seven-time MLA. I have completed all my training, I do not need to pursue any further education.” Verma, 63, said that every MLA is given as assistant for his work. In case any need arises, the MLA will get help from his assistant, he said.

Gopilal Jatav, a BJP MLA from Guna district, said, “I have been a six-time MLA. There are barely any leader who has won as many elections consecutively as I have. I will see what is to be done when the need comes.”

A senior Congress MLA, on condition of anonymity, said, “I could not complete my graduation due to personal reasons. I had taken a break but could never return to studies, began looking after my father’s business and also entered politics, which took much of my time. Similarly, a lot of other MLAs would have had their own issues on why they could not complete their (higher) education, but that does not in anyway imply that they are not equipped to handle their duties as public representatives,” he said.

Congress MLA Privrat Singh, who was power minister under the previous Kamal Nath-led government, pointed out that he had received a letter from the Speaker and that he was interested in pursuing his master’s but was yet to zero in on a course. “I came into politics at a young age as a member of Zilla Panchayat and despite my being interested in higher studies, politics took centre stage in my life. My entire focus was on getting to know the constituency and become eligible to get a ticket and become MLA. But I would certainly like to enrol for a master’s and take it (the offer) up,” he said.

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