Newsletter, August 2008

OBC Reservation & the Tutorial System

The 54% expansion of intake in public funded institutions of higher learning accompanying the OBC reservation in admission has come at a time when government policy has been to cede a larger share of the higher education sector to private and now foreign edu-business. This historic occasion places an onerous responsibility on teachers’ associations to determinedly insist on at least a proportionate increase in teaching positions, support staff, and physical infrastructure so as not to allow a decline in quality.

In the University of Delhi, the tutorial system was defended when the UGC sought to undermine its importance and wanted to stipulate a minimum of 22 hours of lecture periods as the workload for determining teaching positions. Despite that many college principals insist that tutorial groups are 15 in size in order to keep down the teacher requirement based on workload. This means that tutorials take the form of small lectures rather than a group in which there can be intense discussion and close attention can be paid to what a student has followed and problems s/he may have. This goes against the pedagogic aims of tutorials and disguises the increase in workload of teachers.

Today, with the expansion in the student intake, including of students from educationally deprived backgrounds, it becomes all the more imperative that tutorial groups are kept to a size which will enable intensive teacher-student interaction. It is necessary for colleges to ask for new positions and an increase in teacher strength which takes into account, subject wise, the number of 8-10 member tutorial groups which will be formed when the full expansion of intake has been put in place.

It is the responsibility of the DUTA to confront the government on issues which relate to quality since reservation policy should not be reduced to a vote-catching instrument but aim at providing quality education to the deprived. Deteriorating teacher-student ratio and inadequate facilities adversely affecting quality at a time when the government is also out to facilitate business by foreign universities seriously threatens to create in the field of higher education the duality that exists in school education.

SC/ST Reservation Roster

The University administration has been singularly responsible for creating a situation where the roster for SC/ST reservation is willfully violated and manipulated so as to fix appoint-ments or deny employment to deserving SC/ST candidates. The administration cynically abused the UGC directive of May 2006 in the form of Guidelines for Strict Implemen-tation of SC/ST Reservation to allow colleges to classify departments as reserved for and out of bounds for SC/ST candidates. At the same time it refused to place the guidelines in the AC/EC despite the DTF demanding it, helped as it was by the behind-the-scene intrigues of certain teachers’ groups who want lack of clarity in rules so that arbitrary favours can be dished out.

Finally the University administration has been compelled to place the document in the EC and proceed towards constituting a Committee to work out the details.

Facilities for Physically Handicapped Teachers

The Courts had to intervene to drill some sense of earnestness into the University and college authorities in the implementation of the provision of PH reservation for the differently abled in teaching positions. The DTF draws the attention of these authorities to the need to provide appropriate infrastrucure and working conditions for these teachers. Suitable changes in the design of the building to allow easy access for the physically challenged, braille facilities in the library, voice enabled computing facilities and instituional provision of teaching assistance so that the visually challenged teachers can participate in internal assessment are a few areas that need urgent attention.

The University must also ensure the payment of the appropriate Transport Allowance which is twice the normal amount for physically challenged employees.

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