"I visited the colleges yesterday to test the general awareness of students. But as internal examinations were on in the colleges I discussed only their problems with the principals and students," Panigrahi said.
He said he asked the college authorities to take general awareness courses and conduct debates on current issues to develop general knowledge and communication skills of students. The minister said he was shocked when none of the students of government-aided Rayagada College recently could answer general knowledge questions correctly.
"After such an experience, I decided to visit some of the colleges in the state to test general knowledge of students," he said.
The minister alongwith Berhampur MLA R C Chyaupatnaik visited Khallikote Autonomous College, Khallikote Junior College and SBR Government Women's College. The common problems in almost all the colleges were shortage of teaching staff and lack of infrastructure. Students were also demanding facilities like Wi-Fi campus, the minister said.
"We apprised the minister of our problems like shortage of teaching staff, lack of water supply and necessities like two new buildings," said principal, Khallikote Autonomous College, R N Rath.
At least 42 teaching staff posts are lying vacant in the college, he said. The library of SBR Government Women's College is not functioning for last two years as no librarian has been posted after retirement of the incumbent, said principal Sangeeta Babu.
She urged the minister for construction of an auditorium, a reading room, a permanent gate and filling up vacancies in teaching posts, pegged at 18.
Khallikote Junior College principal BN Panda requested for 10 more classrooms and 10 laboratories for its 2,500 students.
Since there is no science laboratory in the college, students are going to another college for their practical classes, he said.