DU Teachers on Strike After Selection Process Leaves ad hoc Teachers Jobless
Delhi University teachers are on a three-day strike against the selection process for permanent faculty at colleges. Image: Ronak Chhabra.
New Delhi: Rakesh Singh (name changed) was shocked to know that he didn’t make it to the final list of teachers selected for permanent positions at Delhi University’s Daulat Ram College. The 30-something mathematics professor couldn’t believe that his 11-plus years of teaching experience was “not enough” to make the cut.
“I am jobless and hopeless. For all these years, I worked hard thinking that I will have a stable life one day. I have no idea about how I will meet my family’s daily needs,” Singh told Newsclick during a strike of DU teachers at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday.
At the call of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), the teachers went on a three-day strike. Hundreds of striking teachers gathered on Tuesday to protest their “displacement” amid the ongoing selection process for permanent faculty in colleges and departments.
Since the selection process began in September, more than 60 ad hoc professors have been “displaced”—or relieved from duty—from several DU colleges, including Deshbandhu, Ramjas, Hansraj and Lakshmibai, among others.
“In my own department, four out of eight ad hoc professors were shown the door,” alleged Singh. There are nearly 4,500 ad hoc teachers—close to 50% of the total teaching staff—at DU. The number of ad hoc teachers, recruited to only replace permanent professors for a limited time, sharply increased after 2010.
“Since 2010, there has not been any major drive to select permanent teachers at the university and colleges to fill the increased number of vacancies due to the expansion in OBCs. Though teaching posts were advertised in 2015, 2017 and 2019, the university didn’t conduct interviews in a majority of departments and colleges,” the DUTA said in a memorandum sent to Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Tuesday.
DUTA leaders address the striking teachers at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday.
In a massive protest in 2019, DUTA had demanded the one-time absorption of all ad hoc teachers as permanent employees.
DUTA president AK Bhagi told Newsclick that the association is raising the same demand even now. “Through our agitations in recent weeks, we were able to get 18 dismissed professors reinstated against new vacancies for ad hoc teachers. We will intensify our protest in the coming days if our demands are not heard,” he said.
Democratic Teachers’ Front (DTF) secretary and Miranda House professor Abha Dev Habib said that even as many ad hoc teachers were dismissed in the past, the ones dismissed this time will not find similar jobs in other colleges. “There has been no official notification but principals of colleges have been verbally instructed to reduce the number of ad hoc teachers,” she alleged.
This means, Habib added, that the number of guest faculty at DU colleges will increase in the coming years. “This is why many of the ad hoc teachers are now being dismissed while the university doesn’t mention one-time absorption.”
The striking teachers also flayed the DU administration for including “outsiders” in the interview selection panel. According to a report filed by the Indian Express, apart from two or three people from colleges, the other five members—three external experts, a V-C nominee and an observer—are from outside.
“Based on a 10-15 interview, a teacher who is considered excellent is suddenly declared unfit,” former DU executive council member Rajesh Jha told Newsclick.
Amit Kumar (36), who teaches political science at Motilal Nehru College (evening classes), is worried as well. “There are 10 ad hoc teachers in my department and I don’t want to even think about what will be our fate at the end of the selection process (an advertisement is expected to be released in the coming months),” he told Newsclick. “It is not possible to teach properly when we are so stressed.”
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