Students of Sao Chang College in Tuensang, one of Nagaland’s oldest higher educational institutions, have taken to the streets in protest, feeling “neglected and abandoned” due to a severe lack of essential services. Their demonstration, which began on 31 August, continued today, highlighting three key demands: the replacement of dilapidated buses, the repairing of a critical 7-kilometer road stretch connecting Tuensang town to the college, and the appointment of a principal.


Students of Sao Chang College are seen here walking on the roadsides avoiding the muddy sludge on the road. (MTNews)


According to Chongshenmongba, the former General Secretary of Sao Chang College Students’ Union, these issues have persisted since the college’s establishment. Past students have raised these concerns with elected representatives, who have repeatedly made promises but failed to deliver on their commitments.


Chongshenmongba explained that on 16 August 2023, they met with their current Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), who assured them that their demands would be met “sooner or later.” The college authorities had also submitted a memorandum addressing these pressing issues. However, on 30 August 2023, a bus brake failure nearly resulted in a catastrophic accident, prompting the students to intensify their protests.


“It is no longer a matter of mere inconvenience; it’s a matter of life and death. We can’t afford to wait any longer,” Chongshenmongba emphasized. “The condition of the Tuensang road is already deplorable, and on top of that, we have four buses, all of which are rusted so accidents can take place anytime,” he said.


Chongshenmongba acknowledged the initiative of Lithrongla T Rutsa, the Deputy Commissioner of Tuensang, who has committed to providing four new buses under ‘CSR’ by December or March. However, he remains concerned that during this waiting period, the safety of the students could be jeopardized.


Furthermore, Chongshenmongba highlighted the college’s prolonged absence of a principal, spanning more than two to three years. Principals are appointed, but their tenures are often short-lived, with frequent transfers.


“In 2022, a principal was assigned to the college but swiftly transferred to Kohima Arts College. This situation makes us feel as if Kohima Arts College is deemed more important than Sao Chang College. It’s a clear indication of the neglect we face, even by Higher Education,” he lamented.


Meanwhile, the president of Eastern Nagaland College Student Union (ENCSU), Mankap, said the union has been actively engaging with ministers and the directorate to address the principal issue. They are currently awaiting the results of the Nagaland Public Service Commission (NPSC), not only for the principal’s position but also for other appointments.


According to Mankap, the union convened a meeting in 2022 where the former director acknowledged that several colleges in the state were grappling with similar challenges in appointing principals.


“The former director of Higher Education emphasized the necessity for PhD qualifications for the Principal position,” he explained, adding, “We were told it is a requirement that poses a challenge due to the limited availability of such candidates in Nagaland”.


“We need a qualified principal so we are waiting for it. We were told that for the post of principal they will have to wait for the PhD,” he said.


DC Tuensang says representation submitted to HE & NH


Deputy Commissioner of Tuensang, Lithrongla T Rutsa, spoke with Mokokchung Times, acknowledging the challenges faced by over 600 students due to the deteriorating condition of the buses.
“The buses are very old. Every now and then the buses are being repaired. We understand their problem,” she stated. Rutsa mentioned that she has received a representation from the students, which focuses on three critical issues: the appointment of a principal, road construction, and transportation.


Rutsa expressed optimism about finding solutions to these issues, saying, “Regarding the principal, we have forwarded the matter to the Directorate of Higher Education. As for the road condition, we have taken it up with the National Highways authorities. We promptly submitted these requests upon receiving the students’ representation, but we are awaiting responses.”


Regarding the ongoing protest, Rutsa shared that the administration has arranged a joint meeting with the college authorities and the students’ union. She hopes that a resolution may be reached, potentially leading to the conclusion of the protest as early as tomorrow.


Mokokchung Times

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