FYUP with multiple exits means variable workload.
BoG controlled “resource efficient” institution means privatisation.
Privatisation of education harms both excellence and social justice.
Say no to assault on education and educators.
Elect Deo Kumar to the EC
A TIME TO JOIN FORCES OR PERISH
This may well be the last time that teachers get to choose their representatives for membership of statutory /authoritative bodies of the University. These elections, therefore, are critical for resistance against this possibility from becoming an undeniable reality. Elections often become instruments through which we communicate, to powers that be, our disapprovals and our resolve to fight. These elections, therefore, demand of us careful deliberation and critical evaluation of our experiences, and a clear understanding of the threats awaiting us.
OUR DREAM OF BECOMING PERMANENT
The first and most important demand of any trade union is to ensure regularisation of all its members. The process of appointments in DU has been repeatedly derailed by the neo-liberal policies of successive governments that have been pushing Universities towards privatisation, grant-cut, self-financing, contractualisation etc. These include: (i) Freeze in appointments in DU since 2010 (ii) Semester system that led to workload fluctuation (2010 -11), (iii) FYUP (2013), (iv) CBCS (2015), (v) 3rd UGC Amendment with increase in each teacher’s workload with imminent loss of 5000 posts (2016), (vi) change from 200 point to 13-point roster (2018), (vii) EWS reservation (2019), 28 Aug letter converting ad-hocs to guests (2019). Each of these ill-conceived reforms was resisted tooth and nail by the DUTA through massive struggles and we were able to reverse some of them such as FYUP, 3rd Amendment, change of Roster, 28th August letter. It is because of our collective strength that we have been able to retain our ad-hocs through all these adverse circumstances including the pandemic and lock down in the last semester, during which a large number of employees in the private and public sector have suffered loss of jobs and salary cuts.
With the adoption of NEP by the Cabinet, the threat of privatisation by making all colleges autonomous with all-powerful Boards of Governors (BoGs) determining all our service conditions looms large, along with its corollaries of downsizing and contractualisation. In the face of this threat, our demand for absorption of all our temporary and ad-hoc teachers becomes even more urgent.
The DUTA has been demanding that the UGC notify a one-time regulation for the absorption and that the committee set up by the Delhi University EC in December 2020 forward its recommendations in support of the same. Instead of doing that, the DU administration has played a cruel joke on teachers by setting up a committee for implementation of NEP, even before the policy is approved by Parliament! This Committee unsurprisingly includes elected members of the AC from NDTF (which has openly supported NEP) and the AAD (which was a staunch supporter of FYUP), the latter being a candidate for the forthcoming EC election, and pointedly leaves out members belonging to the DTF, Progressive, Socialist and Bahujan independent groups, who have stoutly opposed both NEP and FYUP. The committee has reportedly come up with a blueprint for FYUP that, with exit points at the end of the first and second year, and unstable workload for many disciplines, will jeopardise our prospects of absorption. Coupled with the MHRD notification about students being able to opt for 10-40% MOOCS, the danger of reduction of workload for teachers leading to loss of posts is clear and real.
THE OPENING-UP OF LONG OVERDUE PROMOTIONS AFTER A LONG STRUGGLE
The Sarkari group (NDTF) would have us believe that Sangathan (Organisation) and Sangharsh (Struggle) are of no consequence. That their proximity to corridors of power can deliver the goods. If that were indeed so, then their secret confabulations with the Nigavekar Committee (to which they did not let DUTA and FEDCUTA get invited) in 2015-16 would have got rid of the pernicious API. As a matter of record, the bitter dish served to us by the Nigavekar Committee was the 3rd UGC Amendment in May 2016, which had an even worse form of API, along with a surprise gift of increased workload per teacher leading to immediate loss of 5000 posts! It was through a sustained All India struggle by FEDCUTA and AIFUCTO, led by DUTA, that the Teachers’ Pay Review Committee was set up under Prof VS Chauhan in 2016. While thousands of teachers demonstrated outside the UGC, the office bearers of FEDCUTA and AIFUCTO effectively argued their case before the Chauhan Committee and the API was finally withdrawn (till the level of Associate Professor in colleges) in 2018. Professorship, without any quota, has been introduced in colleges after many years of struggle. However, the negative features of the 2018 regulation such as insistence on a PhD for promotion to Associate Professor and only peer-reviewed research articles for publications, and some anomalies in the modified 2010 API scheme, have yet to be resolved.
DELAY IN SALARIES, RECOVERIES AND THREATS OF ‘REVIEW’
The Delhi Government is playing along with the Central Government on the NEP by shamelessly withholding grants from 12 Delhi Govt colleges thereby denying salary to staff for months and forcing them to raise funds through students’ fees for the purpose. It is only after continuous online and offline protests by the DUTA, even through the period of lockdown, and orders from the Hon’ble High Court obtained by colleagues of two colleges, that some relief has come our way.
Meanwhile, the Central Government continues to show its fangs by denying full pension to employees in AMU and sending a CCS order to Jamia for “review” of services of senior teachers! Recoveries of lakhs from senior teachers in DU have been going on unabated since 2015 despite clear judgments of the Apex Court about their impermissibility. Now, the TA paid to teachers during the lockdown when teachers were forced to teach from their homes after spending thousands on devices and Internet packages, is being recovered. DUTA has written to the UGC and the VC about this untenable denial and recovery from teachers who have been on active duty throughout. A freeze on DA has been implemented since January 2020. The writing on the wall is clear. Central Government will give nothing for relief of citizens reeling under loss of livelihood after a hastily imposed lockdown, but will continue to pick the pockets of citizens through exorbitant petrol prices, salary cuts, downsizing of public sector, labour “reforms”, fee hikes, farm bills etc. Indian billionaires, meanwhile, have increased their wealth by 35% during the pandemic, and are now ranked among the richest in the top 6 countries in the world!
EQUITY, ACCESS, AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
The reservation policy, though far from perfect, has given some access to historically marginalised sections in Government funded higher education institutions. The arbitrary freeze in appointments, and the change from a University/college-based roster to a department based one, the attempt to do away with reservations in IITs, or to re define creamy layer, are all part of the design to reverse the process of inclusion and legitimate representation of the vast majority of our people in educational institutions thereby perpetuating the hegemony of the privileged elite. The NEP with its blueprint of privatisation and commercialisation, and no provisions for reservation, will result in further exclusion of the economically and socially marginalised.DU meanwhile continues to ignore proper implementation of reservation by refusing to place the Kale Committee report before the EC, or address genuine demands of the PWD such as the special difficulties faced by them in conducting and accessing online classes and exams, etc. Government and DU remain insensitive on maternity leave for ad-hoc teachers even after the High Court called out the unjust punishment meted out to women electing to be mothers.
STATUTORY BODIES NEED STRONG AND HONEST DISSENTING VOICES
Given the grave dangers facing public universities, whose very existence as democratic spaces open to all citizens and free exchange of ideas is threatened, strong dissenting voices in our statutory bodies are more important than ever before. We need representatives who have a thorough understanding of the issues, who can argue effectively and whose deeds match their words as borne out by their record. The Sarkari group that has openly supported the NEP (and all government policies such as the Farmers Bills) can hardly be expected to oppose their masters. All their fire and fury against the indecisive VC Yogesh Tyagi was to do with the distribution of Principalship etc between the two factions of their group. This was embarrassingly evident in the ugly public spat with 2 VCs, 2 Deans 2 Registrars etc. The other group (AAD) that had openly supported FYUP brought by Dinesh Singh in 2013 can hardly be expected to oppose it with any kind of conviction now, especially as they still eulogise and felicitate him, despite the immense damage he did to DU through FYUP, retrospective application of API, stopping of pensions and vicious attacks on all dissenting voices. The position of this group on absorption has a hollow ring for hundreds of long serving ad-hocs mercilessly thrown out in 2014-15, when this group had a major presence in the corridors of power.
In the last four years, what is the work that the representatives of both these groups have done in the EC? As per the University notifications, they were both members of the committee that approved 5 seats for management quota in each college!
DEO KUMAR of the DTF has a thorough understanding of issues through years of uncompromising activism and engagement with grassroots issues. For an effective voice of teachers in the EC, please give your first preference vote to Deo Kumar, along with his team of BISWAJIT MOHANTY, MITHURAAJ DHUSIYA and RAJESH KUMAR for the AC.
NDTF: From being shifty on NEP to becoming a Government agent in implementing it.
From refusing to acknowledge the DNEP 2019, the NDTF has regressed to welcoming its adoption as NEP 2020. It hails a flexible system with multiple exits (preparation for the infamous FYUP is already under way in DU) as good, and Light but Tight regulation - that hands over each HEI to a BoG to do business in education with hire & fire powers –as pragmatic and visionary!!
For starters, the following image and the next are just two pages (262 & 263) of DNEP with quotes from NEP 2020 and a few of our comments inscribed.
(The text version of the images containing a few additional quotes has been placed first for easy reading on small devices.)
“… a ‘light but tight’ regulatory framework to ensure integrity, transparency, and resource efficiency of the educational system through audit and public disclosure while encouraging innovation and out-of-the-box ideas through autonomy, good governance, and empowerment;” (NEP2020, Pg5)
The only autonomy / power to teacher is as mentioned in the following two paragraphs. Otherwise, Institutional Autonomy = Powers to BoG
“Faculty will empowered to make curricular choices for their courses and to pursue research with academic freedom.” (Heading, Pg. 262, DNEP)
“Faculty will be given the freedom to design their own curricular and pedagogical approaches within the approved framework, including textbook and reading material selections, assignments, and assessments.” (13.4, NEP2020)
Each BoG to decide how many teachers to hire, at what pay and increments, and under what terms. It decides who to fire.
“HEIs will set up effective and fair processes for career progression, promotion and compensation determination (including service conditions) of all its employees, including the faculty. These processes will be based on developing, recognising and rewarding performance and contribution; they will not be based on ‘seniority’. They will be set up by the institution with an explicit approval from its BoG,…
The evaluation could include 360 degree feedback (supervisor, peer and student review) on assessment of contribution to teaching, research, practice (e.g. engagement with practising professionals, adult education, community service, field intervention projects), institutional development (e.g. serving on academic/administrative committees, student support) and other dimensions that the HEI may decide…
Academic staff would have three levels – Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor – … Within each of these levels there would be a wide compensation range, with some overlap across the levels. The HEI may decide the overall structure and levels of staffing. While HEIs, including public HEIs, will be empowered to set up the compensation levels and its increases for all its employees, HEIs shall not reduce the compensation of its employees from currently prevailing levels, nor will they recruit new employees in equivalent roles with lower compensation. However, the future trajectory of compensation increases will be entirely the prerogative of the HEI. Regulatory authorities or regulatory processes (including accreditation) will have no role in determining this process for any HEI, they will assess the diligence of adherence of the HEI to the process articulated by itself.” (P13.1.10., DNEP)
For teachers who are permanent, continuance and future pay increase, or lack thereof, to be determined by each BoG as made clear in the preceding paragraph and the following one.
“Excellence will be further incentivized through appropriate rewards, promotions, recognitions, and movement into institutional leadership. Meanwhile, faculty not delivering on basic norms will be held accountable.” (13.5, NEP2020)
“In keeping with the vision of autonomous institutions …, ‘tenure-track’ i.e., suitable probation period shall be put in place to further ensure excellence …,
A system of multiple parameters for proper performance assessment, for …, confirmed employment after probation, promotion, salary increases, recognitions, etc., including peer and student reviews, innovations in teaching and pedagogy, quality and impact of research, professional development activities, and other forms of service to the institution and the community, shall be developed by each HEI.” (13.6, NEP2020)
In short, the faculty is owned by its BoG.
“All matters pertaining to faculty, from number of faculty to be recruited to recruitment criteria and processes, to career progression, and compensation determination will be part of the IDP, and will be owned by the BoG.” (P13.1.11., DNEP)
“The BoG of an institution will be empowered to govern the institution free of any external interference, make all appointments including that of head of the institution, and take all decisions regarding governance. There shall be overarching legislation that will supersede any contravening provisions of other earlier legislation” (19.2, NEP2020)
The last sentence tells us that the present DU Act is no defence against BoG or dismemberment of colleges from the University.
“all finances, audits, procedures, infrastructure, faculty/staff, courses, and educational outcomes” owned by BoG. (De)Regulation framework requires only a self-disclosure of all that it owns!
“NHERC will be set up to regulate in a ‘light but tight’ and facilitative manner, meaning that a few important matters particularly financial probity, good governance, and the full online and offline public self-disclosure of all finances, audits, procedures, infrastructure, faculty/staff, courses, and educational outcomes will be very effectively regulated.” (18.3, NEP 2020)
“The BoG shall be responsible and accountable to the stakeholders through transparent self-disclosures of all relevant records.” (19.3, NEP2020)
Till 2030, support for salaries through adequate (decreasing funding);
By 2030, public HEIs can manage on their own!!
“Since the IDP is the primary mechanism for alignment of all stakeholders of the HEI, including for public HEIs, it will be used as such for all these people processes. This will include commitment of adequate funding in the long term from the relevant public body/sponsoring institution, for supporting all costs related to all the employees of the HEI, including their compensation. By 2030, all HEIs, including public HEIs, shall have empowerment on all these counts, enabling them to manage and develop their people resources, aligned with their growth and development plans.” (P13.1.11., DNEP)
“While being provided with adequate funding, legislative enablement, and autonomy in a phased manner, all HEIs, in turn, will display commitment to… Each institution will make a strategic Institutional Development Plan on the basis of which institutions will develop initiatives, assess their own progress, and reach the goals set therein, which could then become the basis for further public funding.” (19.5, NEP2020)
“The third vertical of HECI will be the Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC), which will carry out funding and financing of higher education based on transparent criteria, including the IDPs prepared by the institutions and the progress made on their implementation. HEGC will be entrusted with the disbursement of scholarships and developmental funds for launching new focus areas and expanding quality programme offerings at HEIs across disciplines and fields.” (18.5., NEP2020)
While HEIs are mandated to start new focus areas, better quality, etc as basis for further funding, the last sentence clearly limits HEGC to fund scholarship and developmental requirement. Who is to pay for the required faculty?
“The Policy also calls for the rejuvenation, active promotion, and support for private philanthropic activity in the education sector. In particular, over and above the public budgetary support which would have been otherwise provided to them, any public institution can take initiatives towards raising private philanthropic funds to enhance educational experiences.” (26.6, NEP2020)
Through higher fees and private sponsor who gets a foothold to make us fit for self-financing? After all, that is not commercialisation as understood in the policy which says self-disclosure of records by commercial entities is not commercialisation. So, the policy promises to explore opportunities for higher cost recovery.
“The matter of commercialization of education has been dealt with by the Policy through multiple relevant fronts, including: the ‘light but tight’ regulatory approach that mandates full public self-disclosure of finances, procedures, course and programme offerings, and educational outcomes; the substantial investment in public education; and mechanisms for good governance of all institutions, public and private. Similarly, opportunities for higher cost recovery without affecting the needy or deserving sections will also be explored.” (26.7, NEP2020)