With the campaigning nearing an end ahead of the elections for Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), the debates in the teaching circles have focussed on Draft National Education Policy (NEP), regularisation of teachers and challenges with the implementation of the economically weaker section (EWS) quota in a smooth manner.
The election – which is conducted every two years – is scheduled to take place on August 29. More than 8,000 teachers are eligible for voting in this election.
The university campus is witnessing a fierce battle this year as many teachers tout it as a direct confrontation between the Left and the Right Wing. Democratic Teachers’ Front (DTF), a Left-wing teachers’ body, has fielded DUTA President Rajeeb Ray for re-election and Abha Dev Habib, V S Dixit, Jitendra Kumar Meena and Biswajit Mohanty for the post of the DUTA executive. DTF has been ruling the association for past four consecutive terms.
Against Ray will be contesting A K Bhagi from the National Democratic Teachers’ Front, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-backed teachers’ organisation, which was recently in news for opposing the induction of a chapter related to Godhra riots in the English Department's syllabus and demanded several other changes in syllabi of Political Sciences, History and Sociology.
This year, Academics for Action and Development (AAD) and Indian National Teachers’ Congress (INTEC) – both factions of the Congress party – have not fielded their candidates for the presidential posts, strangely. It is not clear which contestants their members or supporters plan to vote for.
Abha Dev Habib, former Executive Council member of Delhi University argues that the elections this time are too crucial for the teachers and the university as a whole. Speaking to NewsClick, she said, "We must understand what DUTA stands for. The president of DUTA is also the president of FEDCUTA or the Federation of the Central Universities Teachers Associations. The DUTA plays a leading role in teachers' movement by mobilising public opinion on educational policies and service and working conditions of the teachers. It recently led movements against 30-70 funding formula, 5 March 2018 notification for department-wise roster, point-based promotion scheme and central civil services rules for teachers. Why these elections are important? I think we are living in times when students are fighting their own struggles, employees are fighting their own struggles. Thus, we cannot leave teachers’ struggle to an organisation which has aligned itself with the power and will lack the commitment to fight the anti-people educational policies.”
She added, “We are seeing a deafening silence by the members of NDTF on the Draft National Educational Policy 2019. They were invited to express their views on the policy in DUTA meetings as members of its Drafting Committee. They neither participated in the DUTA's exercise of preparing critique of the NEP nor in the DUTA Executive meeting where it was tabled for discussions.”
The proposals of the Draft National Education Policy have been scathingly criticised by the leading educationists and academicians who fear that the proposals will bring centralisation and corporatisation of higher education. Interestingly, the Draft National Education Policy has also the proposed formation of Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog – national education headed by the prime minister and co-chaired by NITI Aayog chairman.
Rajeev Kunwar, a teacher at Dyal Singh College told NewsClick, “The Draft NEP proposes three forms of educational institutions namely research, teaching and autonomous institutions. These institutions will be governed by the board of governors who will decide everything from the salaries to the status of employment of teachers. Will it be permanent or on probation? And this will only increase the vulnerability of the teachers who are already teaching without any job security, as ad-hoc teachers for the last 10-15 years.”
Apart from the Draft NEP, the regularisation of ad-hoc teachers is also dominating the debate with the demand for one-time absorption of more than 4,000 teachers working on ad-hoc positions gaining ground. An ad-hoc teacher, who requested anonymity, said, “One-time absorption must be brought in to end our miseries. We live in uncertainty; we cannot participate in conferences and seminars, women teachers are not getting maternity leaves. How long can one endure it?”
NewsClick tried to reach A K Bhagi, Presidential Candidate from NDTF to know his views on campaign issues, but he remained unavailable. Former DUTA President Aditya Narayan Mishra too could not be reached for comment on AAD's campaign in DUTA elections.
Also read: Draft National Education Policy – Seductive Sophistry in Service of the RSS