Published: 31st January 2020
Karnataka PU Teachers' Chief and Education Minister trade blows on Facebook amidst protest
Suresh Kumar, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education mentioned in his Facebook post that Thimmaiah Purle, President, KPULA is argetting (using) students' futures for his vested interests
The PU lecturers protest across Karnataka seems to have taken a ugly turn due to an ongoing tiff between S Suresh Kumar, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education and Thimmaiah Purle, President of the Karnataka Pre-University Lecturers Association (KPULA). Yesterday, when the lecturers protested at Bengaluru's Freedom Park, the education Minister posted on his Facebook account, "Thimmaiah Purle will contest the next state legislative lections and he is organising these protests from his political party. They are putting students future at stake and are not concerned about their well being. They should take a more non-violent approach in their protest."
However, he mentioned that some of the lecturers' demands will be fulfilled by the government and implemented this year. "The doors of my office will be always open to the lecturers to discuss various issues and solve them. I am always ready for any change that can be adopted in the rules. Let's not harm the future of our students," he posted and added, "This January 31, Thimmaiah Purle has taken Voluntary Retirement from service. He is targetting (using) students' futures for his vested interests which is not fair."
Purle, who has served the Karnataka Pre-University Lecturers Association (KPULA) for years now is a senior lecturer in the Economics department in the Shahpur Government PU College in Yadgir. When we asked him if the news of him taking voluntary retirement from his service is true, he said, "Yes, I am taking voluntary retirement from my service and I will be relieved from my duty at 5 pm on January 31, 2020. When I heard that the minister has said that I am motivating lecturers to protest for my vested interest, I was hurt. In fact, I have applied for the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) six months ago. The government did not accept my letter immediately and made me walk from pillar to post. What I will do after I retire from the service is my personal decision. Whether I will stay at home or join a political party is not the issue here. Fighting for a cause and politics are two different dimensions. Why is the Education Minister not able to make out the difference between the two?"
He further added, "The KPULA does not work on my instructions. Time and again, every government that has been elected has always blamed the association and the president for protests. I have been working for this association for nine years and the demands that we have been placing are not mine alone. They are the demands of thousands of PU lecturers across the state. Being in power and position, the education minister has to look at fulfilling the demands rather than blaming me. Today, when I retire from the post of lecturer, I will be also retiring from the post of president of this association. If I wanted to misuse my power, I would have done it when I was in the association. Why would I do it now?"
So what did they demand at the protest?
In yesterday's protest, the PU lecturers have said that if their demands are not fulfilled by the government, they will wear a black badge as a sign of protest during the PU-II board exams and will boycott the evaluation also. SR Venkatesh, Vice President, KPULA said, "Our demands include rectifying the pay scale of lecturers across all the colleges, both government and aided, promotion for the lecturers who have served in the department for 10 years or more than that, forming a committee to solve the issues of workload among PU lecturers. Since Science is a practical subject, the total work hours for these lecturers are fixed at 16 hours per week. For non-practical subjects like Math, the number of hours per week is around 20 hours which is unscientific and inhuman. And most of the time, we are deputed to other colleges to teach though there is enough strength on the assumption that we have less workload. Another demand is the appointment of principals in 600 colleges where the posts are vacant. There should be limited strength in the class. According to the rules of NCERT, every class should have a maximum of 40 students but in most of the classes, there are more than 40 students which leads to more workload."
Speaking about how consecutive governments have harassed them for ex-gratia money, he says, “According to the directions from the state government, the ex-gratia money of Rs 500 paid to the lecturers every month appointed after August 2008 should be repaid to the government. But we have suggested to the government that repaying the ex-gratia money all at once will be a financial burden for many lecturers. Hence, we demand that the government deduct it from our salaries every month so that the money paid by the government to lecturers gets repaid. We have also demanded that the lecturers who have completed PhD, passed SLET and NET exams to be promoted and posted to the degree colleges."
What has Suresh Kumar promised on Facebook?
The government ensures an increase in the evaluation fee for PU lecturers
The government has given a green signal for the appointment of a college principal through the process of counselling. Around 250 principals will be appointed in different government colleges
A clear notice given for administrative actions not to allow for a delay in salary/delay of annual/periodic interest payments
A sympathetic stance on workload is also determined by the rules
The issue of NPS pension is not only our decision and I have been discussing with concerned department officials to find a solution to this issue