The burden of being contractual
Where are they who felt so `concerned' about students losing their precious time. With contractual lecturers on strike and government showing no interest in meeting their genuine demands, poor students suffer the most. Who cares?
COMMENT BY HASSAN ZAINAGIREE
Since June 27, college contractual lecturers have gone on an indefinite strike as government did not deliver on the assurances and promises it made with them. The strike has severely affected the class work. Many students have been forced to stay at home as not a single subject of theirs is being taught. Others who avail the services of the permanent teachers of the colleges have to do “homework” for deciding whether or not to attend the class next day. They can’t loose the entire day and hard earned money of their parents for a period or two. The impact of the strike is all discernible. The class rooms appear dull. Even the ongoing examinations of post-graduates and undergraduates has suffered due to inadequate staff.
And it is for the past one month the government that claims to be ‘responsible’, ‘democratic’ and ‘responsive to the genuine demands of the people’ has responded in either being completely frigid to the demands of the lecturers or demonstrating its pro-activism in unleashing police force to silence them. Cops catching hold of a contractual teacher and dragging him (GK, picture, 21 July, 2011) tells all; ‘the dignity and honor’ the government and administration accords to the PGs (most of whom are PhD degree holders).
Last year when summer uprising disjointed life in Kashmir and education too suffered, the political establishment both at Delhi and Srinagar and Indian media, all flagellated in grief at the ‘loss’ of ‘precious time’ of our students and held separatist leadership responsible for ‘spoiling the future’ of young generation. Every muck was heaped on him. Now look at the plight of the students who wail and whine: ‘Our education has come to a halt and government is looking as a mute spectator. Our career is being spoiled…’ (GK correspondent being told by a group of students at Government College for Women in Srinagar).
On July 6 last the Minister for Higher Education Abdul Ghani Malik stated that the government would concede to the genuine demands of the contractual lecturers: ‘We are taking measures to reach out to them and are discussing their genuine demands in order to save the students’ career’. Well, one must appreciate the concern of the Minister and his sensitivity to the ‘genuine demands’ of lecturers and eagerness to ‘save the students’ career’. Good. Pretty good. But has the words been translated into action, or they are mouthed just to buy time and wear out the patience of the protesting teachers and tear their unity apart. It is three weeks since the Minister delivered the assurance and nothing ice-breaking is seen. The stalemate continues and students continue to suffer.
Now let us have our gaze at the demands of the contractual teachers. These are: ‘Revocation of the nomenclature, terming them academic arrangement lecturers and teaching assistants instead of contractual lecturers, monthly stipends equivalent to the basic salary of the post on which they are engaged; and end to new norm of six classes per day. They also demanded one time exemption in NET/SLET.’
All these demands, we think, are genuine. The nomenclature ‘academic arrangement’ inherently is flawed and disrespectful. It is ad hocist in intent and of Kam-Chalav nature. The very phrase intrinsically reflects the malice and hubris of the authorities. Shove the teachers off as and when they please. Get satiated and throw them off. God Almighty is this the “status” our PhD scholars have been “venerated” to! Is there dearth of phrases in English literature that makes us unable to address them properly? The disparity in their salaries is heart-rending and discriminatory. Moreover, it is violative of the Supreme Court ruling which has, in unambiguous terms, given ‘equal work, equal wages’ directive. It is absolutely unjustifiable that contractual teachers in spite of being more resourceful in their streams and exuding in confidence and competence are drawing a poor salary, far below their dignity and educational qualification. Add to it the work-load they have to consume their energy for. Six classes per day they have to conduct against the four classes they would conduct previously.
South Africa has since long done away with the apartheid which had virtually and literally too, segregated the country into privileged class of white-complexioned and dehumanized unprivileged class of black-complexioned people. The discrimination meted out to contractual lecturers in colleges throughout state betrays the high-ups in government and Higher Education Department are still wedded to the thought, albeit in a more polished way.
Does it need to remind the authorities that there are University Grants Commission (UGC) norms and basic salary and work load have to be in accordance with these norms, but in case of this hapless lot these are followed more in breach than in observance.
How cruel that many of the contractual employees have crossed their upper age limit for employment and government watches indifferently! The government needs to address the genuine demands of the contractual lecturers in the earliest so that precious time of students is saved. Their salary and other stipends have to be at par with those of permanent lecturers of colleges. Like RTs the contractual lecturers need to be given permanent employment on time-bound pattern. Security of job is a pre-condition for quality education we want our young generation excel in. Unless a teacher is ensured the dignity and better working conditions that dream remains elusive.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 28 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 28 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 29 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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