As a faculty of social science working for last few years as a contractual lecturer in higher education department, I have some observations with regard to Higher Education system. It is not my intention either to comment in favour or against anyone, but I have observed everyone, at lower or higher level, have manipulated the rules and regulation as per his/her discretion. My purpose is to bring attention towards its effect on the academic discourse and ethics. It is also about the systemic error permeated through inadequate and flawed rules and regulations of which the entire system is the victim, mostly the student community.
My focus in this article is about the career advancement and career progression of academic arrangement faculties. Academic career is a life evolution. In order to become a faculty for higher education one has to devote entire life and develop all skills, and is required to complete specific qualifications.
Being a faculty of history and politics the decisions time and again by the bosses at the helm of affairs has ignited my contemplation about certain historical precedents and their relevance to present situation, prevalent in higher education system. It reminds me of the imprisonment and execution of Socrates-how he was poisoned to death-by the ruling class. The second precedent fallowed Aristotle’s escape (to save his life) owing to Alexander’s hunt for him. The third one is about French nobles, the “sumptuous prodigal riots” which cornered the general masses into deprivation and disgust. French nobles enjoying the privileges of power and wealth never cared about deteriorating economy and failing French society. It never concerned them, rather pampered French society into corruption to fill coffers. The laws were to help the noble rich only and set to maintain their domination in the system. No one belonging to non-noble class should enter the domain of the noble class. However, it was conditionally conferred to certain people-the rich and wealthy only-who can pay tax and was thus conditional that they are not equal to original nobles. They were only tamed for the comfort and service of upper and original nobles. The above narration must have conveyed its message that highly educated faculties of higher education are heckled and harassed by the rulers. The rules and regulations are framed to deprive them of their equal opportunity (Career Advancement and Career Progression) and equality of person.
In our own recent history precedents are found that perpetuated authoritarian rule of Maharajas benefitting a particular community/class over the expense of common masses. Every Kashmiri knows about the plight of Shawl Baffs who were the victims of ruthlessness. The burden of deprivation was equally shared by their families. Their own skill became a curse and reason that some of them chopped off their hands. It seems that spending 34 years to complete Doctorates and other eligibilities, competing at national and international level has ended up in victimization.
Our forefathers faced wrath of Rajas, we are facing it from this system. There are 2400 vacancies in higher education department still pending and not advertised. Remember there is an “equal opportunity” clause so hold vacancies till every one becomes equal. At least in age. Still, those who hold good qualifications, doctorates, let them become intellectual wanderers instead of becoming financial liability for the system. The system is already manned and managed by these eligible lot but being unconfirmed, contractual lecturers are yet unqualified to be taken into the system through any innovative mechanism. We are still ruled by a kind of White collar supremacy always citing lack of rules and finances. Even if it is considered ‘financial crunch’ a reason career advancement or professional stability does not include remuneration only. There is a systemic inequality that the rules don’t permit for academicians to become truly professional and committed.
Career advancement and career progression is the birth right of teachers and researchers. In all other departments career progression is ensured through departmental exams carried by PSC. KAS to IAS, Patwari to Tehsildar, accounts Assistant to senior officers, constable to inspector is done through departmental screening and scrutiny. In fact in school education SSA and RT teachers are promoted as regular teachers considering their contribution and services. The regular teacher is actually an SSB post. A teacher promoted as lecturer on seniority basis (recently) is a gazetted post. They were not even scrutinised for promotions. Our own faculties in higher education department are promoted and given career advancement on seniority bases. However in case of academic arrangements the case is working otherwise. We are being victimized only because the PSC which is a, taking years together to get even small number of posts filled, has not interviewed us.
The contractual faculty is competent provided the department develops a mechanism to evaluate and scrutinise their performance as faculties like other departments do for career progression of its employees. The fact of the matter is that career progression is a basic right and an individual working in a department in any capacity must be given that right. The truth is that they have never ever been allowed any career progression. They are not allowed for workshops, refresher programmes, not to speak of pursuing degrees. In case of a newly appointed teachers, APs, after completing probationary period their priority becomes to complete PhD for increments and career advancement is a Government provision based of human rights. Not opening such opportunities and avenues for Academic arrangement faculties is injustice. Are they less humans? In fact the contractual faculties have completed their doctorates at the entry level itself. Absorbing them is economical and beneficial for department for sustainable and quality education. Whenever the contractual faculties are registering their grievances in a democratic way, it should not be looked through ill intentions or suspicion or hurting some one’s personal ego. These teachers possess faculties and are not less or unequal citizens of this nation.
But the consistent deprivation of dignified life has broken down the morale and confidence. The matter is not about regularisation as such, as it is referred to by recent committee by averring that they can’t be regularised. Though there is doubt whether a two page write up of 5 or 6 points can be defined as a report. I mean no arguments were raised, no discussions held, and no facts or evidences were discussed. It looks like a dogra Farmaan. An assistant professor completes probationary in two years, becomes senior Assistant professor after four years, and after eight years designated as associate professor and then professor fallowed by principal’s position. A contractual faculty is part of each and every activity in college; governance through committees, research, invigilating, exams classes etcetera; these activities are counted as API for permanent faculty and the same don’t count in career progression of Academic Arrangement faculty. A contractual is contractual first year, fourth year, eighth year and so on. Why can’t rules be amended and the department through PSC or by itself scrutinise their performance as faculties and other credentials periodically. In the leading world universities there are Junior Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Assistant Professors, Senior Assistant Professors, Associate and full Professors. This is to ensure career progression of all according to their position and merit. And our Higher Education system has come up with an innovative style of arrangement -“Need Based Arrangement”- speaks seriousness of those at the helm of affairs. This is the only out of box thinking to restructure and overhaul the deprived education system.
The people at the helm of affairs are inadequately equipped and give preference to saving finances, reducing expenditure and trying to kill two birds with one stone: save money and hide inadequacy.
When all other departments evaluate people departmentally, let higher education department evaluate and scrutinise contractual lecturers. The faculties who can prove their worth must be ensured career progression and advancement. Let the new comers work on contractual basis and gain some experience before launching them into the higher education as full-fledged faculties.
Rules are not for fools. They are meant for social civic arrangement. Two examples: A year before Madhya Pradesh gave 30 % reservation for contractual faculties in its PSC recruitment. IIT appoints the contractual faculty for five years and then again through a committee framed by the respective institution his performance of five years is evaluated and scrutinised to confirm him for permanent designation accordingly.
Dr. Muzammil is Faculty higher education kashmir