Published: 23rd July 2022
With Centre making it clear that ad-hoc teachers will not be absorbed, where does that leave these educators?
Somehow the earlier Vice-Chancellors didn't fill the positions on time. And the teachers were forced to work on an ad-hoc basis: DUTA President AK Bhagi
The issue of absorption of ad-hoc teachers at Delhi University has been going on for a long time. It flared up yet again during the ongoing Monsoon Session of the Parliament. This happened when Union Minister of State of Education Subhash Sarkar, in a written response to Lok Sabha MP Dibyendu Adhikari, stated that there is "no proposal under consideration” in University Grants Commission (UGC) to absorb ad-hoc teachers of central universities and affiliated colleges as permanent staff.
According to data shared by the minister, as many as 3,904 teachers are employed in central universities in temporary posts, which includes 122 teachers on ad-hoc basis, 1,820 on a contract basis and 1,931 as guest faculties. He also informed that only two universities, the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and the University of Delhi (DU) have ad-hoc faculties.
Delhi University on Monday, July 18, directed its colleges to continue the services of existing ad-hoc teachers on usual terms "for the time being" in the academic session 2022-23 till regular appointments are made, officials said.
In a letter to various colleges, the university's assistant registrar took note that the appointment of teaching staff on a regular basis would take more time.
"The university feels that the services of existing teaching staff appointed on ad-hoc basis as per the guidelines be not dispensed with or disengaged for the time being and they be allowed to continue on ad-hoc basis on usual terms in the larger academic interests of students in various disciplines/subjects till regular appointment of teaching staff is made," the letter read.
But why appoint when ad-hoc teachers can be absorbed permanently is the question being raised by associations and ad-hoc teachers. It may be recalled that the Delhi University Teachers' Association (DUTA) has been advocating for the absorption of these ad-hoc teachers, who invested their precious years in teaching, for almost eight to ten years. As per the association, DU currently has 4,200 ad-hoc teachers in 66 colleges.
Ad-hoc teachers served when there was a need
Regarding the same, President of DUTA Ajay Kumar Bhagi makes an important point when he says, "It so happened that former vice-chancellors didn't fill the vacancies (for permanent staff) on time. And the teachers were forced to work on an ad-hoc basis." It is these ad-hoc teachers who served when the university really needed staff, he says, indicating that ad-hoc teachers need to be absorbed instead of appointing new teachers for the existing vacancies. This is because the latter is a more time-consuming process and might not do full justice to ad-hoc teachers who have been teaching for over eight years.
Echoing the same thought, Professor of Physics at Miranda House, Dr Abha Dev Habib, ironically says, "The UGC office happens to be just three kilometres from the university and yet, it's been ten years since the permanent teacher vacancies have been filled."
Elaborating more on the statement, Prof Habib points out how, due to change of governments, different reforms were introduced and then scrapped. Offering more details, she added, "During the academic year of 2010-11, we adhered to the semester system and in 2013, the career undergraduate programme was introduced under UPA (United Progressive Alliance) and in 2014, FYUP (Four Year Undergraduate Programme) was scrapped as many people protested against it."
Additionally, the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) implemented CBCS (Choice Based Credit System) in 2015. Later in the year 2018, Learning Outcomes-based Curriculum Framework (LOCF) was introduced followed by National Education Policy (NEP) in 2022, Prof Habib highlighted.
Teachers need to be valued
Sharing her views on the response of Minister of State Subhas Sarkar regarding ad-hoc teachers, Prof Habib asks, “This is a very bad decision for the teaching profession. The teaching profession has to be valued by every government because if this profession is not valued and considered, how will you generate the next round of scholars?” she questions.
Claiming that several states have absorbed their ad-hoc teachers, both Habib and Assistant Professor (ad-hoc) from Satyawati College, Delhi, Manoj Kumar, question, "When several states like Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand are regularising teachers, why can't the same be implemented by the Centre?"
Speaking more about the consequences of not absorbing ad-hoc teachers, Manoj Kumar lists stagnation of ad-hoc teacher's career growth, no study leave for further studies/PhD, no increment, no special benefits or schemes, and no social security or financial security as the issues they are facing.
"Even the permanent teachers are as qualified as ad-hoc teachers and teach the same subjects to the same classes. Then why is there a difference in the payment of salaries?" he asks, bringing to light another disparity.
Meanwhile, the ad-hoc professor recollects how in an appeal about ad-hoc teachers between Secretary, State Of Karnataka And ... vs Umadevi And Others on April 10, 2006, the seventh point states, "The claim is essentially based on the fact that they have continued in employment or engaged in the work for a significant length of time, they are entitled to be absorbed in the posts in which they had worked in the department concerned or the authority concerned."
Consequently, in 2016, Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had written a letter to the University of Delhi on November 3, 2016, demanding the "regularisation of ad-hoc teachers on a permanent basis." But Manoj Kumar says the Governing Council has not taken any step forward in this regard.
Additionally, DUTA President Bhagi, says, "It doesn't just affect personal growth but also impacts the educational environment. That is why we are asking for a one-time measure and requesting the minister to consider our requests in the best interest of the university, teachers and students."
Prof Najmul Islam, Secretary, Aligarh Muslim University Teachers Association (AMUTA) said, "On July 22 (today), AMUTA is going to organise an Executive Committee meeting which will deliberate and come up with a resolution for this." Though it seems like the academic career of ad-hoc teachers is at stake after the Centre's response, AMUTA will continue to fully support them, he says.
Ad-hoc teacher Manoj Kumar said, "If there is no absorption, we will protest on the streets. Besides absorption, there isn't any other option that can solve the problem. Because, if they decide to hire new teachers for all departments of all the colleges, it will surely take a very long time to hire," he added.