An education drive

Print edition : April 08, 2005

The Asansol-Durgapur Development Authority is striving to make the region an important educational centre not only in West Bengal, but in the entire eastern India.

The Bengal College of Engineering and Technology in Durgapur.-

THE Durgapur-Asansol region is fast emerging as an educational hub. A large number of institutions offering professional courses such as engineering and management sciences are already operating in the region, which is under the stewardship of the Asansol-Durgapur Development Authority (ADDA). The ADDA's programme is aimed at ensuring educational facilities for all, right from the primary level to the collegiate level. Its efforts are showing results: Burdhwan district has achieved a literacy rate of over 83 per cent.

In Asansol alone, there are over 240 primary, secondary and higher secondary schools, run by the State government, trusts or missionaries - such as the St. Vincent School, the Assembly of God's Church School, the Ramakrishna Mission School, Loreto Convent, the St. Patricks School and the DAV Model School. The ADDA has also been active in promoting rural education, particularly among women. A number of schools and colleges for girls have come up in the past few years. It addition, the Authority has also started Rural Functional Literacy Centres. Durgapur alone has more than 300 such centres. It is not just through schools and colleges that the ADDA is trying to spread education; it has opened several libraries to promote the reading habit among the new literates. Nearly 100 libraries and reading rooms have been opened in Durgapur and more than 150 in Asansol.

The ADDA has played a crucial role in promoting the growth of institutions for professional education in the region. Some of these include, the CMERI, the NTPI and the Institute of Chartered Accountants. It is to the ADDA's credit that Information Technology courses have been introduced in all the engineering colleges. In order to promote IT education, the Authority has helped set up branches of Aptech, NIIT, Data Infotech and other such institutions. It is also planning to set up an Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT).

In 1980, the region had only two engineering colleges - the Regional Engineering College in Durgapur, which has been declared a deemed university, and the Asansol Engineering College. Today, there are seven engineering colleges, six management institutes and a number of hotel management colleges. Some of the relatively new engineering and management colleges that are doing well in the region are:

The BREC was set up on August 21, 2000, at Durgapur under the overall management of the Dr. B.C. Roy Engineering College Society. Named after the second Chief Minister of West Bengal and eminent physician, Bidhan Chandra Roy, the college has set its sights on becoming a leading institution in the fields of technical and professional education.

The institution, affiliated to the West Bengal University of Technology, offers the following B. Tech degree courses approved by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) under the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development and the State Department of Higher Education: Information Technology, computer science and engineering, electronics and communication engineering, electrical engineering, applied electronics and instrumentation engineering, and mechanical engineering.

Being situated in the heart of an industrial township offers certain advantages. Foremost among them is the opportunity for industry-institute interface. In order to give the students a taste of the practical application of the knowledge they have imbibed, they are sent out in their higher semesters for interactive fieldwork in the various industries in the region. This is done through the Industry-Institute Partnership Cell of the institute.

The college maintains a library covering almost all engineering disciplines and related subjects. Over 14,000 books and 24 subscribed periodicals are at the disposal of the 1,120 students and 110 faculty and others staff members. The library's open access system allows the students to read in the library as well as borrow books. The BREC also maintains more than 40 laboratories, including high-end computer laboratories, whose equipment and instruments are continuously upgraded in its effort to keep up with the changing technology. The college offers residential facilities in the centrally located Durgapur Steel Township. At present there are two hostels, one each for male and female students. A new workshop and hostel complex is coming up on the campus with indoor and outdoor facilities for sports.

A thrust area of the institution is securing placement for its graduate engineers and management students. The first batch of its graduates passed out in June 2004.

Its Department of Management Studies offers a two-year Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the West Bengal University of Technology. It is approved by the AICTE.

At the entrance of the Durgapur Society of Management Science.-

The NSHM Academy of Durgapur is fast gaining recognition for its School of Hotel Management and College of Management and Technology. With the growth of the hotel industry propelled by foreign and domestic tourism and business travel, the demand for personnel with good managerial abilities has grown considerably. The NSHM School of Hotel Management strives to fulfil this demand and provides some of the most modern facilities and resources to its students, which include training areas developed specially to help simulate real-life situations. This branch of the NSHM Academy also imparts a three-year diploma course in hotel management.

The NSHM College of Management and Technology offers undergraduate courses in the following areas: Computer applications, business administration, optometry and vision sciences, hospital management, and media science.

The campus is spread over 2.4 hectares and has fully equipped laboratories. If the success of its students is any indication of the quality of an institution, then the NSHM Academy can bask in glory. Its students won numerous prizes at the recently concluded HAT.com and CHEF.com competitions at Christ College, Bangalore. An undergraduate student of Computer Applications was recently felicitated by the State government for academic excellence.

One of the NSHM's main focuses is achieving a perfect balance between studies and extracurricular activities. The seven awards its students bagged at the SpringFest 2005 at Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, stand testimony to that. Cultural and educational programmes are also organised regularly, serving the purpose of exposing the students to healthy competition.

The students are also taught to be aware of their social responsibilities. An example of this is a unique institute-industry-community partnership forged at the Academy in March through a seminar titled "Blindness control: Interventions and instruments". Students of the Academy helped mobilise funds for organising eye care camps for the poor. Ophthalmic glasses of various specifications were provided by Bharat Opthalmic Glass Ltd.

The Academy also enjoys a good record in placements through campus interviews. Out of the 120 final year students this year, 100 have already been selected by top companies.

The Durgapur Society of Management Science (DSMS) was set up in 1990, which makes it the oldest private college offering a hotel management course in the region. This institution has emerged as one of eastern India's premier hotel management colleges in the private sector, with students coming in from various parts of India and other South Asian countries.

The college offers undergraduate courses in hotel management, hospital management, computer application and business administration. The faculty is a blend of seasoned academics and top industry professionals with work experience in national and international hotel chains, airlines, tourism sectors, IT and hospital industry.

The 2.4-hectare campus has a built-up area of 90,000 sq feet, including the college and the hostels. The DSMS boasts 100 per cent placement for years running. Its graduates have found placement in major hotel chains such as Taj, Oberoi, Welcom Group, ITC Fortune, Quality Inn and the Sarovar Group. The DSMS is also among the few institutes in the country to introduce Business English Certificate (BEC) courses in association with Cambridge University.

Set up in 2001 by the SKS Education and Social Trust, the Bengal College of Engineering is known not only for its high educational standards and competent faculty, but also for its collaborative programmes with some of the country's premier institutions such as IIT, Kharagpur, and Jadavpur University. The eight-hectare campus is located in the idyllic Bidhan Nagar area of Durgapur, 5 km from the railway station. Its built-up area is around 100,000 sq ft, and it has a fully computerised library, six computer laboratories, 12 electronics and communication laboratories, six biotechnology laboratories, well-equipped physics and chemistry laboratories and workshops, and a language lab for intensive training in communication in English.

The college also offers MBA, MCA, BCA and BBA courses. The college has a team of highly qualified academic personnel committed to excellence. This is reflected in the performance of the students. In the academic year 2002-2003, two of the students emerged as university toppers in the first and second semesters respectively. In the last semester, the college's MBA students secured eight of the top 10 ranks. The college also encourages extra-curricular activities, including seminars and industry visits.

Asansol alone has six general colleges, a polytechnic and a homoeopathy college. There are also the Triveni Devi Bhalotia (TDB) College in Ranigunj, the Mining College in Dhadka, and the two technological schools - the George Telegraph Institute and the Techno Commercial Institute.

The region being an industrialised one, ailments of the chest and lungs are not uncommon in Asansol and Durgapur. In order to combat these, the ADDA is planning a medical city. A plot of 40 hectares is being developed for this project. Soon the region will have its own medical colleges with hospitals and dental and nursing colleges.

The impact of such an education drive by the ADDA is very apparent in the region. It is not just the youth from the State who are making use of the increasing educational opportunities in the region; students from Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and the northeastern region apply in large numbers for admission, mostly to the engineering and management institutions.

Narayan Swaroop Nigam, Chief Executive Officer, ADDA, was correct when he said: "If we can keep up the good work, the Asansol-Durgapur belt can indeed become an extremely important educational centre not just in West Bengal, but in the whole of eastern India." The spread of education in the region is expected to further accelerate as the State government has promised proper infrastructure facilities to private managements wishing to start educational projects.

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