Published: 22nd January 2021
More than 2,050 college teachers form collective as they feel excessive political manipulation is ruining the academic field
The formation of the group was triggered by the non-implementation of the 7th UGC pay revision
Choked by the unabashed political loyalty of certain sections of staff that questioned their dignity, more than 2,050 college teachers in the state have formed an alternative collective. The members of the newly-formed 'Adhyapaka Aikya Sanghatana', active on Telegram belong to mainstream college teachers' organisations that are politically affiliated. "Irrespective of politics, this group is a collective of teachers who feel excessive political manipulation is ruining the academic field," said Shaju K Y, convener of the collective and Vice-Principal of Christ College Irinjalakuda.
The formation of the group was triggered by the non-implementation of the 7th UGC pay revision. Though the State Finance Minister Thomas Issac had announced on Wednesday that pay revision would be implemented from February 1, teachers are a bit suspicious as they reason that many such announcements were made by the Higher Education Minister in the past. College teachers lament that they are getting the same salary they received 14 years ago. "College professors are among the most qualified people. But the basic pay scale is Rs 15,600-39100, which is less than that of a last grade servant in Kerala. Though other states had implemented the pay revision, it has been pending here since 2006. Blind political loyalty is preventing teachers from carrying out a proper campaign against this gross injustice," said a college teacher from Kottayam.
Another grievance of the teachers is that though there is a general feeling among the common public that college teachers are highly-paid people who do not give something back proportionately to society, the organisations are reluctant to clarify the same because of their political affinity. "Especially during Covid times, there was an impression that college teachers are sitting idle at home and receiving a meaty UGC package. We need to convey the real picture through the organisations but they are keeping mum. Our dignity is at stake," he pointed.The new collective has submitted petitions to higher authorities, including the Prime Minister to implement the pay revision.
While a doctorate holder joining as assistant professor is entitled to five advance increments, an MPhil degree holder is eligible for three. UGC revoked this advance increment through a draft notification in 2017 but restored it in its final order a year later. Strangely, the state government has not restored it and continues with the revoked draft notification, a teacher said. Though the state has made an announcement on revised salary, there is no word on restoring advance increment. However, AKPCTA, the college teachers' largest association in the state, which is pro-CPM, denied the allegations.
"Teachers were added to the new Telegram group without their consent. The non-implementation of the pay revision was because of a lack of clarity in the order. There was confusion in the orders of the union education ministry and UGC that put the state in a dilemma. We have been following the developments and the revised pay scale will be available from next month. The arrears pending since 2016 have been incorporated," said state president Jogy Alex. The CPM-affiliated government college teachers' organisation AKGCTA echoed Jogy's statement. "Those who formed the organisation on social media were not seen anywhere to fight for teachers' rights," said AKGCTA general secretary N Manoj. Kerala has less than 10,000 college teachers across both government and aided institutions.