Last month, UGC circulated guidelines for an increase in the working hours of teachers by two hours per week for each category of teachers. Even as the chairman of the University Grants Commission is said to have pronounced his decision as final, the affected teachers continue to protest. To name a few, JNU, DU, and Jamia teachers are among those participating in the agitations.
Rejecting these guidelines, J Khuntiya, chairman, Academics for Action and Development (Rathi), said: “UGC and MHRD must honor their own commitment of not tempering the workload. We also condemn the attempts made by political parties to hijack teachers’ platform to further their cause rather than solving the problems of thousands of temporary teachers seeking permanent jobs and permanent teachers awaiting promotions.”
Acting upon the directions of the Ministry of HRD, a meeting between various stakeholders was called for on June 6th. The major points raised during the Monday meet were regarding the student feedback based performance appraisal, new workload standards and concerns about retrenchments.
- According to the norms in question, Assistant Professors who previously had to put in 16 hours a week, now need to put in a total of 18 hours.
- Associate Professors need to now put in 16 hours instead of 14 hours a week. Student feedback was also included as criteria for teacher appraisal and consideration for promotions.
This may imply that a huge amount of workload that was earlier shared by other ad-hoc or visiting teachers would now need to be taken up by the permanent ones and also put the jobs of ad-hoc teachers at risk. Some sources peg the percentage of expected job cuts at an alarming 50%.
Teachers Are Fighting Back
Pushing for a complete rollback of changes, the representatives also brought to light the flaws of the API-performance based appraisal system of 2010. Further, most of them unanimously agree on the standards of promotion to be similar to those drawn out by NDA-1.
“The huge turnout of teachers at UGC reflects their resolve to fight back. Nothing short of rollback of UGC regulations will be acceptable to the teachers,” said Ashwini Shankar, chairman, Delhi State Indian National Teachers’ Congress.
The recent meet between the UGC spokespeople and the various stakeholders representing university teachers seems to have ended on an overall note of dissatisfaction. However, while the teachers continue to demand a complete rollback, UGC refuses to commit to anything in writing. Whether or not all involved will reach an amicable understanding is yet to be seen.