Published: 12th November 2020
Government colleges in Karnataka set to open, but short of guest teachers
With just six days to go for the reopening of offline classes, if shifts have to be worked out to ensure COVID-19 safety norms, colleges are faced with no clarity on who will handle additional work
While preparations are under way to start the academic year with physical attendance in classes for students and teaching faculty from November 17, government colleges are faced with inadequate manpower, an issue which could have been resolved earlier. As many as 14,500 guest lecturers have not been paid salaries since March and havent been reappointed for the 2020-21 academic year, while more than 1,000 permanent teachers in 428 government colleges in the state are yet to be appointed for the academic year.
Most of them are language and commerce lecturers, sources in the teaching fraternity point out. The ratio of guest faculty to permanent teachers is 2:1, says general secretary of Karnataka Government College Teachers Association (KGCTA) HB Narayana. There are about 7,000 permanent faculty members in the state. A higher concentration of guest teachers is seen in government college in B and C zones (non-urban areas). There is no saying if they will report back to work as they have not been given their appointment letter and not paid salaries for the last eight months.
Some have also taken up other jobs - such as selling vegetables - to make ends meet, says guest lecturer Suma (name changed) at a government college in Bengaluru. All these years, lecturers like Suma, who has eight years under her belt as a guest lecturer, are awaiting financial as well as job security. Department working to appoint more teachers
We are paid for 10 months, and after the summer break, we have to just wait to hopefully make it to the list of guest faculty members for the next year. Sometimes, if permanent appointments are made, they take up 16 hours of workload per day per person, while guest lecturers, who receive a fraction of the salary and work eight hours, are taken off the list,” Suma says.
This insecurity has amplified with the pandemic and the department is still trying to work out a way to make the appointments. Without confirmation of appointments, guest lecturers do not know if they have made the cut, and they have discontinued teaching their students as they are officially not employed in the college.
The problem facing the government colleges is that the guest lecturers handle more than just the classrooms - they are involved in various other jobs including the admission process. With their absence, or meagre presence, the workload for the permanent faculty is bound to increase in classrooms as they try to fill in for the missing guest lecturers.
With just six days to go for the reopening of offline classes, if shifts have to be worked out to ensure COVID-19 safety norms, the colleges are faced with no clarity on who will handle additional workload, says KGCTA secretary Narayana.The appointment of more than 1,000 faculty members was also stalled when the government decided against it after the pandemic started weighing on the state’s kitty.
To try and remedy this, the department is seeking the finance department's approval to sanction the appointments. Commissioner of department of Collegiate Education and Teechnical Education Pradeep P told The New Indian Express that special recruitment rules were finalised, but those were put on hold (owing to the pandemic). "The higher education department has already sought a special permission from the finance department, and approval is awaited," he said.