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Letter to PM

  AIFUCTO
 
  All India Federation of University & College Teachers' Organisations

To MHRD

Submitted to Shri.Kapil Sibal, Hon. Minister

Human Resource Development, Govt. of India

New Delhi ; 10.08.2009


Greetings from the All India Federation of University and College Teachers Organizations (AIFUCTO)

The AIFUCTO, the only all India organization of University and College teachers working in State Universities with more than 100 organizations affiliated to it and a membership of more than five Lakh teachers, wishes to congratulate Mr. Kapil Sibal on his becoming the Minister for Human Resource Development. The AIFUCTO extends its warm greetings and wishes him all success in all endeavors to make the HE system vibrant and relevant to the needs of the society and to bring education within the reach of the masses of India.

AIFUCTO makes use of this opportunity to share some of its views and place before the Hon. Minister some of its urgent and long pending demands.

  1. PAY REVISION:


One of the serious issues before the University and college teachers community and which needs immediate attention and intervention of the Hon. Minister is the issue of pay revision. While the pay of the Central Govt. employees was revised in September 2008 itself and while the MHRD came out with its notification regarding pay revision in Dec. 2008 and subsequently the pay of the teachers working in Central universities was revised, the pay of the teachers working in State universities and colleges is yet to be revised. Only Arunachal Pradesh , Goa and Uttar Pradesh have revised the salary for their teachers. In Maharashtra the teachers have been on strike for more than 25 days. Discontent is simmering among college teachers which may snowball into a major issue affecting campus peace.


Hence, AIFUCTO urges the Hon. Minister, HRD to intervene and take appropriate steps so that pay for university and college teachers in all the states may be revised immediately.


  1. PAY REVISION AS A PACKAGE:


The Chadha Committee categorically stated that the pay revision must be a package with the basic pay, corresponding grade pay, other allowances and other conditions. While the State Governments are likely to revise the basic pay, they are not likely to revise the allowances and other benefits. This will create an enormous disparity among teachers. This, in fact, is the bone of contention in Maharashtra. The State Governments argue that the 80% central assistance pertains to only pay and not the allowances and hence they are not in a position to pay the revised allowances notified by the MHRD.


Hence, we request the Hon. Minister, HRD to take it up with the Govt. of India to consider the expenditure involved for payment of allowances also while calculating the Central financial assistance.


  1. RETIREMENT AGE:

 

Keeping in view the necessity to upgrade the knowledge and skills of the teachers, the MHRD and the UGC have notified that the minimum qualification for appointment in colleges/ universities would be NET/ SLET and that PhD holders would be exempted from acquiring NET/ SLET. Taking into account the shortage of qualified persons for the appointment of teachers arising out of this decision of the UGC/ MHRD and also because of the shortage arising out of the creation of new opportunities and new institutions, the MHRD has enhanced the retirement age to 65. But the retirement age varies from State to State and Universities to Colleges. The retirement age varies from 55 to 65 which has created a wide disparity among teachers from state to state.


Hence we request the Hon. Minister, HRD to impress upon the State Governments to implement a uniform age of retirement throughout the country so that the states do not suffer from shortage of qualified teachers.

 

  1. ANOMALIES IN THE LAST PAY REVISION:

During the last pay revision, the MHRD notified that the qualifying service for CAS would be reduced from 8 + 8 years (lecturer > lecturer SS > lecturer SG) to 6 + 5 years and also that Lecturers SG as on 01-01-96 who had put in 5 years of service as SG lecturers would be given a higher start of Rs 14940/-


But the revised qualifying service for CAS was implemented only from 22-07-98 instead of 01-01-96 which has created an anomalous situation.

Up to 22-07-98 teachers with 16 years of service only were given CAS. But they were not eligible for the higher start of 14940/-. They were not also eligible for the reduction in the qualifying service and hence faced a double loss. This has been a gross anomaly with a large number of teachers affected by this.


A section of teachers filed a case in the Kerala HC which gave a judgment in their favor. When the judgment of the Kerala HC was not implemented the teachers filed a contempt petition. The counsels of the UGC and the MHRD submitted to HC that the anomaly would be rectified on the basis of which the UGC and the MHRD were relieved from the contempt petition.


The Chadha committee also recommended redressal of this anomaly.


The MHRD notification also gave a direction to the UGC to look into the anomalies and pass suitable orders after getting necessary permission from the MHRD.


Hence, we request the Hon. Minister, HRD to give suitable direction so that this anomaly could be rectified.

 

  1. CENTRAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE:

There are states like Orissa which have not implemented even the last pay revision. There are States which have implemented the last pay revision only partially. Most states have not paid the arrears due to the last pay revision. The State Governments say that their financial position is not so sound as to implement the pay scales. Hence we represented to the Chadha committee to consider cent percent financial assistance to the states. The Chadha committee also, in its wisdom, recommended 100 % financial assistance for the first five years and 50 % for the next five years to the states which have implemented the pay package in toto. But, unfortunately the Govt. of India has not accepted this recommendation.


We request the Hon. Minister, HRD to take this up with the Govt. of India and provide 100% financial assistance to the States for the implementation of the revised scales.

 

  1. SELECTION OF TEACHERS AND APPOINTMENT OF

PRINCIPALS

The quality of education depends on the quality of teaching. The quality of teachers is a crucial factor in the quality of teaching. Hence the pay review committees dwelt upon the minimum qualifications for teachers and have made recommendations regarding constitution of selection committees and even the selection processes. The UGC has also framed suitable regulations. But these regulations have not been followed by most private managements and universities which has a bearing upon the quality of education in various parts of the country.

The post of the principal is crucial in the running of a college and a wrong person in the post may vitiate the whole atmosphere. Because of the intervention of the private managements in the appointments of principals where factors other than merit are considered, campus atmosphere is vitiated which have a telling effect on the quality of education.

Hence we urge the UGC and the MHRD to intervene and create suitable mechanisms so that candidates with merit and quality are appointed as teachers and principals.

(7) The MHRD notification noted that the directly appointed professors would get more than CAS professors though CAS professorship is more rigorous than open appointments. We want both the categories be treated at par.

(8)UGC has notified that the exemption from the NET and SlET for M.Phil and Ph.D degree holders with old format will discontinue for the eligibility to be appointed as teachers in university and colleges.We feel that this must be a prospective requirement. The date of implementation should be the date of gazette notification(11th July) and all registration done before the gazette notification date remain valid and exemption continue for them.

(9) We are worried that the AICTE Pay review committee is yet to submit its recommendations. We urge the AICTE and MHRD to ensure immediate announcement of the revised pay for the AICTE teachers.

(10)The AIFUCTO requests the Hon’ble Minister to take necessary steps such that appropriate pay scales are announced for Accmpanists,Coaches ,Instructors and Tutors.This is very old demand and only these academic staff have not been covered by the UGC recommended pay scales.

(11) We have noted with concern that the MHRD notification has not recommended any pay scale for the Demonstrators though there are thousands of such staff all over India. We request the MHRD to announce their pay scale immediately.

(12) The 6th Pay pay revision has denied any additional financial benefit for the incumbent Ph.D and M.Phil degree holders.This is against the principle of rewarding the researchers. We request MHRD to acknowledge the hard work done by the researchers and be given at least 3 and 2 increments.


(13) YASH PAL COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS

The recommendations of the committee may be classified under two heads

  1. Recommendations on academic reforms

  2. Recommendations on structural reforms

The general recommendations of the Report on the academic reforms involving improvement of content, multi-disciplinarity, innovation in pedagogy, and modernization of institutions are welcome. On several ideas the report foregrounds, there has been considerable consensus for quite some time. However, the recommendations on structural reforms are new and have far reaching implications and therefore need detailed discussions. Following are the important structural reforms proposed:

  1. Establishment of National Commission for Higher Education & Research (NCHER) which will subsume 13 apex regulatory bodies in higher and technical education

  2. Opening up of the higher education sector to foreign educational entrepreneurs

  3. Establishment of 1500 universities and clusters of colleges

National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER)

The recommendations of Yash Pal committee on the constitution of NCHER conflicts with the spirit of the academic changes it advocates. The recommendations on academic reforms are premised on decentralization of decision making process, on the autonomy of universities, colleges and the individual teacher and the student. The structural changes envisaged through the constitution of an NCHER with overarching powers and responsibilities, on the other hand, tend towards centralization. Moreover, the proposed NCHER entrusted with responsibilities such as national level policy formulation, academic innovation and regulation, coordination and financing of higher education institutions is likely to be overburdened with responsibilities which it will find difficult to perform. It would, as a result, stifle the possibility of diversity and innovation, which are cardinal for ensuring quality in higher education. This apprehension becomes more serious as the entire responsibility of NCHER is entrusted with a small committee of seven people, endowed with constitutional powers and privileges. There is no provision for mandatory consultation, which could ensure a consensual process in decision making and implementation. In view of the above, the recommendations on NCHER require modification as follows.

  1. Restrict the responsibilities of the proposed NCHER to policy advice , academic innovation and coordination of apex level regulatory agencies ,leaving the rest of the responsibilities like financing and coordination of universities and colleges to the existing regulatory agencies

  2. Create a three tier mandatory consultative mechanism ,involving the following , for the formulation of policies:

(a) Representatives of the State

(b) Representatives of the Universities

(c) A cross section of the National leadership in various walks of life

Further, there should be provision in the enabling Act to ensure that policy decisions are taken by the Government on the advice of NCHER only in consultation with CABE and with the concurrence of the Parliament.

Foreign Universities

The recommendation of Yash Pal committee to permit selected foreign universities to set up their campuses in India would not help improve the quality of education, even assuming that only the best institutions would be permitted to set up campuses and such institutions would be interested in running their quality programmes and post their best faculty in India. Improvement of quality has to come from within, through an internal process. Collaboration with foreign institutions can certainly assist this process. What we need therefore is not independent campuses of foreign universities operating on the Indian soil , but active academic collaboration of the best foreign universities with Indian universities. Hence instead of setting up campuses of foreign universities in India, steps may be taken to encourage academic collaboration of foreign universities with Indian Universities.


Establishment of 1500 universities and clusters of colleges

Though the concept of smaller universities is laudable, it may not be feasible to set up 1500 universities over the next few years. A more feasible project is to set up clusters of colleges. Instead of granting autonomous status to individual colleges, it would be better to grant autonomy to clusters. While individual colleges may not have adequate physical and human infrastructure to function as autonomous institutions, clusters could pool in physical and intellectual resources which would make autonomous functioning viable in terms of physical and intellectual facilities. The scope for diversification of courses would be considerably enhanced if the cluster system is promoted. This would also encourage cooperation in place of competition.

(12)BILL ON PROHIBITION OF UNFAIR PRACTICES IN HIGHER

EDUCATION INSITUTIONS

The draft central legislation seeks to legitimize corporatization and commercialization of higher education by applying the ethics of business to the practice of administering educational institutions. The provisions in the bill seek to limit the obligation of social accountability of educational institutions to merely ensuring transparency in the process of admission and levy of fees. The larger issue of social justice is totally ignored. There is no provision for an admission procedure based on a common entrance test (CET) and centralized counselling conducted by the agency of the State or for allotment of seats among various categories of students including SC/ST/OBC/Minorities. There is also no provision for a differential fees structure on the basis of merit/income of students. What is more, the proposed central legislation could even nullify the operation of admission and fee regulatory committees set up by various State Governments in accordance with the judgment in Supreme Court verdict in Inamdar case, as the apex court has made it clear that the “committees regulating admission procedure and fee structure shall continue to exist, but only as a temporary measure and an inevitable passing phase until the Central Governments or the State Governments are able to devise a suitable mechanism and appoint a competent authority”.

The proposed legislation is a far cry from the draft UGC (Admission and Fee Structure in Private Aided and Unaided Professional Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2007, which was allowed to lapse. The UGC draft has provisions which empower the State/Union Territory Governments to regulate universities set up within the state /UT. The provisions in the UGC draft regulations provide for allotment of seats under Government General Quota, Government Reserved Quota, and Institutional Quota and Management quota. Such quotas would be variable for minority and non-minority institutions. There are also provisions for regulating admission through CET and centralized counselling conducted by agencies appointed by the State. There could be variable fee structure determined by fee regulatory committees appointed by the State, by taking into account “such social aspects as SCs, STs, OBCs, rural, economically weaker sections, the population of minorities in the area and their educational needs and all other relevant factors, including the suggestions of managements”. In addition to the above, there are also adequate provisions for ensuring transparency in the functioning of educational institutions and for imposing exemplary penalties on those institutions which fail to comply with the regulations.

AIFUCTO would request MHRD to replace the draft bill by a new bill in accordance with the draft UGC regulations 2007.

(14)THE ALIBI OF MINORITY RIGHTS AND COMMERCIALIZATION

OF EDUCATION


The MHRD has announced that a law to amend the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act would be introduced to strengthen the Commission. While the constitutional rights of the minorities should be protected, it is equally important to ensure that the rights are not misused. Unfortunately minority rights are often paraded by unscrupulous persons/groups as an alibi for commercialization of education .This should be resisted. For this we need to have greater clarity on the following:

  1. Who are the minorities?

  2. What are minority rights?

Constitutionally, the category of national minorities, linguistic or religious, no longer exists. After the verdict in the TMA Pai Foundation case (2002), the legal position stands clarified that the unit for determining the status of both linguistic and religious minorities would be the 'State'. Further in Bal Patil & Anr Vs Union of India & Ors (2005), the Supreme Court has laid down the following criteria for State-wise identification of minorities.

  1. It should be numerically less than the majority within the state concerned.

  2. It should be identifiable as a community with distinctive features

  3. It should be seen as deserving protection from likely deprivation of its religious, cultural and educational rights on the basis of objective conditions available in concrete situations

  4. Such deprivation should be traceable to the likely intervention of those communities who happen to be in a majority and likely to gain political power in a democratic form of Government based on election

As for the nature of the rights, the Supreme Court has laid down that minority rights are

  1. part of the right to equality

  2. protective rights

  3. community rights

A minority community is thus a community which is both numerically less and socially/educationally/economically deprived in comparison with the majority community within a state. Minority rights belong to the majority within the minority community. A dominant community or a dominant group within a minority community is not entitled for special protection under Article 30(1). The constitutional understanding is in tune with international understanding of the concepts of minorities and minority rights.

Going by the above understanding of minorities and minority rights, there is rampant misuse of minority rights by educationally dominant communities which enjoy unquestioned status as minorities on the basis of numerical criteria for the determination of minorities. What is more, such status is often appropriated by a minority within the communities to the disadvantage of the majority within such communities and the vast majority of the population. The unconstitutional appropriation of privileges and the misuse of such privileges have to be resisted, on the basis of a proper policy frame work. Therefore we need to evolve an appropriate policy on minorities and minority rights, different from both minority persecution and minority appeasement. Such a policy should take into account the constitutional understanding on the concepts of minorities and their rights and the ground realities available in each state.

AIFUCTO requests MHRD to incorporate appropriate norms for the determination of minority educational institutions and specify minority rights in accordance with the apex court rulings in the proposed amendment.


(15)AIFUCTO’S POLICY ON EDUCATION:

AIFUCTO, after a detailed discussion with the constituent teacher organizations and other academics, have come out with a Policy on Higher Education. A copy of the same is enclosed herewith for the consideration of MHRD.


AIFUCTO urges the MHRD to consider this while formulating the Government’s policy on education.


(16)JOINT CONSULTATIVE MECHANISM


AIFUCTO also requests the MHRD to draw up a suitable mechanism on a regular basis to consult AIFUCTO on major decisions affecting the Higher Education system and to thrash out service related issues from time to time.


Thomas Joseph
President

Asok Barman
General Secretary

 

 
   

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