The role of education in the socio-economic prosperity is well recognized. In addition to empowering, education develops a person in terms of knowledge and skills which in turn contribute to the overall economic growth. It is in view of this fact that the achievements made at the literacy front are taken as one of the important factors for assessing the overall progress made by a state or a nation over a period of time. Getting conscious of the importance of education in the socio-economic upliftment, the state has started investing heavily in the educational sector to bring the state at par with the national averages of literacy rate. However, there is still a long way to go in achieving this cherished goal of bringing literacy rate at par with the national averages. The state is 4th educationally backward states of the country as per census 2001.
The overall literacy rate of the state as per census 2001 is 55.52% as against the national averages of 64.84%. Of the three regions, Kashmir is educationally the backward region of the state with 48.86% literacy rate which is far below the national average. Jammu and Ladakh regions have the literacy rate of 63.42% and 63.15% respectively which compares well with the national average.
Elementary Education, Secondary Education and Higher Education form the three levels of educational pyramid and all of them are important. Primary Education lays the basic foundation of education while as the Secondary Education acts as a bridge between Elementary Education and Higher Education. The Higher Education plays a strategic role of building strong knowledge base of students both at technical and non-technical fronts, utilized for attaining sustainable Socio-Economic Development. Although the successful implementation of ‘Sarvo Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)’ and other measures taken from time to time has played some role in achieving large-scale enrolment of children in regular and alternate schools, yet the state is required to do lot more to achieve the real and desired results. A lot of investment in building new elementary schools and upgrading the infrastructure of existing schools is needed. As per census 2001, the state has ‘Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER)’ of 74.45% in class’s I-VIII which is far below than the national Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of 93.54%. While comparing with the adjoining states, Jammu and Kashmir fares better than Punjab and Chandigarh but is lagging behind Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh on GER.
The expansion of secondary education has not kept pace with the growth in elementary education. At the national level, the average number of secondary/ higher secondary schools per one lakh population are 14 where as it is only 13 in Jammu and Kashmir state. Further compared to 13 secondary/ higher secondary schools in the state, neighboring states like Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab have 23, 37 and 16 secondary schools respectively. Moreover, at the national level number of secondary/ higher secondary schools per 100 Sq. Kms are 4 whereas it is only two in Jammu and Kashmir State. Given the above poor scenario of secondary education in the state, there is a great need to expand this level of education. Otherwise, the state will continue to suffer from low literacy rate at the higher secondary level and beyond.
The state also suffers from very low literacy rate at higher education Level. The results of 60th Round of NSSO conducted by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics in the state has reflected that 36.30% were literate upto middle level, 21.20% were educated above middle level to higher secondary level and only 7.08% of population was literate upto graduate level and above. The very low literacy rate at the graduate level and above in the state is also due to poor access to higher education in the state. Access to higher education in the state is only around 7% as against the national average of 11%. The total seating capacity for post graduate studies in the state is around 18,750 seats only as against the total demand of around 57,000 seats. To achieve greater strides in the literacy rate at the higher education level, we need to follow the national goal of increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) to 16.5 % by the end of 11th Five Year Plan. To achieve this cherished goal, we need to revise the enrolment in colleges and universities substantially which in turn would require huge expansion of higher education in the state by establishing new colleges and universities/ satellite campuses.
In line with the above stated goal of achieving 15% growth in Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at higher education Level, the government has gone wholehog in establishing new colleges and during the last seven years, around 62 new colleges have been established by the government in the state which definitely has the potential to increase enrollment sufficiently at under graduate level. To meet the corresponding demand at the post-graduate level in the state, Government of Jammu & Kashmir established three new universities viz; Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, Islamic University of Science and Technology and Shri Mata Vishnou Devi University. Besides, the two premier universities of the state viz; University of Kashmir and University of Jammu were allowed to establish four Satellite Campuses two each by the two universities at ideally located places of the state. The University of Kashmir is in the process of establishing three more Satellite Campuses, one each at Leh, Kargil and Kupwara. These and other measures taken will go a long way in achieving desired increase in the literacy rate of J&K State at the higher education level. However, there is a need to develop these New Universities and Satellite Campuses on most modern lines at faster pace with nation building ethos.
The University of Kashmir is located in the lap of precious jewels of nature, the Dal Lake & Nigeen Lake, in the town of Hazratbal, which is ten kilometers away from the city centre, Lal Chowk, which is the hub of Kashmir’s business and industry, with over 80% of Kashmir’s business being within a twelve-mile radius of the campus. The lush green campus with delightful natural surroundings with the Himalayan Mountains in the background is spread over an area of 225 acres of land.
The University of Kashmir came into being in the year 1948 by virtue of J&K University Act. Over the years, the university established a name for itself within and outside the country due to its achievements in academia. In recognition to the outstanding performance in pursuit of academic excellence, the university has been awarded Grade ‘A’ by All India National Accreditation and Assessment Council, an autonomous body of the UGC. The University has maintained a steady progress in terms of academic growth and expansion. It is presently having ten faculties with 35 teaching departments and 11 Research Centers offering P. G. courses in traditional as well as emerging areas. Besides teaching, thrust on quality research and extension programmes to explore and develop new frontiers of knowledge is the hallmark of Kashmir University.
The University has developed able ICT and support services. The campus has a network of 42 libraries attached to different Departments/ Centres in addition to Allama Iqbal Library which is the only ISO Certified Library of the country. Rare manuscripts and books are also available in the library. Allama Iqbal Library has a high quality browsing centre with its own Web Server, VSAT and Radio Link. More than 2000 journals are available for online reference. Each and every department at the campus is networked by Information and Communication Technology and E-learning’s & E-communications are aiding in providing healthy environment for quality learning.
Genesis of Satellite Campuses
With the increase in the human population and significant improvement in the socio-economic condition of the people of Jammu & Kashmir State, together with mass awareness programmes, the number of students seeking admission to various courses offered by the University of Kashmir increased manifold; much beyond the carrying capacity of the University. For example the proportion of the applicants that have been granted admission to various courses offered by the University of Kashmir on the Main Campus during 2008-09 was only 7.44%. Thus leaving large chunk of the candidates with an option either to move out of the state or wait for another chance next year. The concerns about the limited opportunities available to the boys and girls for pursuing post graduate studies in the state were echoed by all and sundry, including conscious members of the civil society and political leadership of the State and need was felt to address this problem at the earliest. The university authorities were fully ceased of this serious problem and to address this serious socio-economic issue it has adopted a three pronged strategy viz;
- To create more opportunities in the Main Campus by increasing the number of seats and by launching new and innovative courses. While the intake capacity in the existing departments was increased in tune with the available infrastructure but it resulted in the accommodation of very insignificant number of students.
- To allow some selected colleges of Kashmir region to start P. G. Programmes. So far seven colleges were allowed to launch P. G. programmes in the disciplines of Commerce, Management, English, Geography, etc. However, this policy was ultimately discontinued in view of the lack of qualified teaching faculty, infrastructure and other allied facilities in the colleges.
- To establish satellite campuses at ideally located places of Kashmir Division with twin objectives viz; to increase the limited seating capacity for P. G Programmes and to create infrastructure for post-graduate studies at other places of strategic importance.
It is in this backdrop that the University of Kashmir was encouraged to submit a proposal to the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India, for setting-up of post-graduate centres/ satellite campuses at Anantnag, Baramulla and Leh. In May, 2002, a one-time grant of Rs. 20 crores was sanctioned in favour of University of Kashmir under ‘Prime Minister’s Package’, which besides other things included provision of about Rs. 5.95 crore for the establishment of three post-graduate centres/ satellite campuses at Anantnag, Baramulla and Leh. Subsequently, announcements were made by the State Government for the establishment of similar satellite campuses at Kupwara and Kargil, which were duly approved by the university council for establishment in 2008. ‘with the same strength and other norms and conditions as have been adopted in case of Poonch and Baderwah campuses of the University of Jammu’.
The University of Kashmir achieved one major milestone in 2008 when it formally launched its first satellite campus ‘The South Campus’ at a place where brains are fertile and intellectualism is in blood. The campus is situated on a plateau at High-Ground, Fatehgarh, Sarnal, Anantnag, three Kms away from the main city centre of the town, providing a panoramic view of the town and its environs. The road leading to campus is hilly with pine trees which offer a unique and fascinating grandour to the road. The Campus which is spread over 354 kanals is surrounded by hill-tops which makes the landscape of the campus quite charming and fascinating. The campus although being close to the city centre of the town, yet its location at high-ground keeps it away from the noisy and polluting city environs, thus providing an intellectually stimulating environment for better learning. The Campus is located in Anantnag District of South Kashmir which is connected with different parts of South Kashmir with a well laid road network and is just at a distance of 5 Kms from the railway station.
The South Kashmir consisting of four districts viz; Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam constitute the main catchment area of the campus having a total population of __________ which accounts for _______% of the total population of Kashmir Valley. With regard to literacy rate, South Kashmir does not compare well with the central Kashmir in terms of literacy rate at the higher education level. The districts comprising South Kashmir are predominantly rural and the people of the area are mainly engaged in agriculture.