Guest Teachers of Tamil Nadu Government Colleges Demand Regularisation
Guest faculty of government colleges protestoutside the Directorate of Collegiate Education, in Saidapet, Chennai.Image credit: SS Ramajeyam.
In 1996, the then-M Karunanidhi government started hiring contractual faculty members for government colleges, mainly located in backward areas with families below the poverty line.
Eighty percent of faculty members in higher government institutions in Tamil Nadu are contractual with 7,360 guest faculty in 125 arts and science colleges.
“We haven’t been regularised even after serving as guest faculty for more than 20 years. Tamil Nadu boasts of crossing 51% of intake in higher education, but those responsible for it are paid a meagre Rs 20,000. Is this social justice?” asked Ramajeyam, state coordinator of the Government Arts College Protest Coordination Committee.
“This is a modern form of bonded labour. Colleges are set up but no permanent faculty members are appointed,” he told Newsclick.
According to the teachers, consecutive governments have done nothing to improve their situation.
Around 200 guest faculty protested outside the Directorate of Collegiate Education, in Saidapet, Chennai, from July 18-19 and placed a four-point charter of demands.
TAMIL NADU ‘WORSE THAN OTHER STATES’
The protesting teachers demanded that their salaries be increased from Rs 20,000 to Rs 57,000, the minimum pay fixed by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
“Kerala, Pondicherry and Haryana pay as per the UGC pay scale for guest faculty. In south India, Tamil Nadu pays the least to contractual lecturers,” said Ramajeyam.
“Although I am well educated, I cannot buy my wife flowers or my son ice cream without thinking twice. This is the plight of contractual teachers in Tamil Nadu,” he added.
Guest faculty raise slogans outside the Directorate of Collegiate Education.
Former MLA Pazha Karuppaiya, who visited the protesting teachers, said, “Construction workers and our faculty members are paid the same daily wages of Rs 650. Even a mason earns more than 30,000 a month.”
He added that teachers are paid more in private primary and elementary schools. “This is blatant exploitation of temporary faculty members.”
DMK NOT FULFILLING PROMISE
The 2021 DMK manifesto promised to regularise guest faculty but appointed 1,895 contractual teachers after coming to power.
“Besides, the DMK government wants to conduct exams for 4,000 permanent faculty positions. Experienced guest faculty would have to take exams along with aspirants. Is it fair?” asked Ramajeyam.
Guest faculty members are hired for 11 months (June to April) and recruited again after one month.
‘NO JOB SECURITY’
The term for guest faculty in Tamil Nadu is Gourava Thozhilalar, meaning respectable/honourable worker. The protesting teachers asked what is respectable or dignified about their work without benefits or job security.
“Women guest faculty do not get maternity leave and have no job guarantee during pregnancy. Their posts are considered vacant during pregnancy and colleges hire others,” Ramajayem alleged.
The protesters also demanded that families of guest faculty who died due to COVID-19 must be compensated with Rs 10 lakh from the CM Relief Fund.
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