Teaching staff dearth hits academics in colleges

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The dearth of teaching staff has hit the functioning of degree colleges across Kashmir as the Higher Education Department continues to remain indecisive over the engagement of “academic arrangements” in the colleges for the current academic session.

Around 3600 teaching positions have been sanctioned in the degree colleges across J&K of which around 1000 are vacant.

Over the years, the Higher Education Department would engage “academic arrangements” to compensate the dearth of teaching staff in the colleges. However, for the past two years, the issue has been caught in official wrangles, adversely affecting the academics in colleges.

Post August 2019, following the closure of educational institutions, the department verbally disengaged “academic arrangements”.

Following this, the aggrieved candidates approached the High Court and obtained a status quo.

Due to the intervention of the court, the annual engagement of “academic arrangements” also came to a halt.

“We are not able to issue advertisement for engagement of ‘academic arrangements’ because of this. The issue is lingering since 2019,” an official said.

Amid this, the contractual lecturers who were earlier working in colleges on “academic arrangement” accused the department of humiliation despite keeping the department functional for decades.

President of College Contractual Teachers Association (CCTA) Javid Wani said that the department never paid attention to address their genuine demand of regularisation or framed any job policy.

He said that the department gave them a stepmother treatment as they were deprived of their salary since August 2019.

“Post July 2019 period has been tough for the ‘academic arrangement’ faculty and the present challenge of COVID-19 has added to our miseries,” Wani said.

While the issue has been caught in official wrangles, the new “academic arrangements” have accused the department of closing doors for them.

“We fail to understand why the department is not issuing advertisement for fresh engagement of ‘academic arrangements’ despite having vacancies,” an aggrieved candidate said.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, Director Colleges J&K, M Y Peerzada clarified that they had given approval for the release of salary of all “academic arrangements”.

“We haven’t withheld salary of any ‘academic arrangement,’” he said.

About the engagement of “academic arrangements” in colleges for the current academic session, Peerzada said it got delayed due to “some official issues”.

“We will notify the advertisement within a few days. Last year, candidates were engaged on ‘academic arrangement’ basis whose term ended in December 2020. This year we will make fresh engagements,” he said.

Peerzada said that the government had already referred the vacant positions to J&K Public Service Commission (PSC) to fill the vacant posts in the colleges.

Meanwhile, a top official said that the government had decided to engage guest faculties in the colleges instead of academic arrangements.

“The guest faculty will attend the colleges on a need basis. This is being done to overcome the deficiency of teaching staff in the colleges,” he said.