The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) is striking back with a vengeance. This time around, there are three sound reasons for the strike-the UGC’s recent amendment in the National Eligibility Test (NET), the disapproval over the proposed semester system and issues with the amendments in the 6th Pay Commission.
The main concern of course was the withdrawal of exemption from NET to PhD/M Phil holders. Lakhs of college teachers and aspiring lecturers with PhD and MPhil qualifications across the country are facing a bleak future with the University Grants Commission (UGC) suddenly seeking to amend its regulations making a pass in the National Eligibility Test (NET) or State Level Eligibility Test (SLET) mandatory for appointment as college teachers.
A lecturer at Jesus and Mary College states, “The DUTA strike was called on because of certain issues. One of them was the University’s decision to make the NET examination a compulsory qualification for a lectureship appointment. Up till now those who had finished their MPhil were not required to sit for the exam. However it’s not going to be the case now as teachers who have completed their M.Phil will be required to clear the net. Moreover it’ll b implemented with retrospective effect, which is unfair to those teachers who have not cleared this exam but worked at their post for some years already. Thus the backdate effect of the NET would have negative implications effect for them. In any case, NET is not an adequate parameter for judging a teacher’s capability or mastery of the subject.”
The amendment, when implemented, would virtually make a lot of lecturers with PhD and MPhil qualifications who have not passed the NET or SLET, ineligible for appointment in universities and colleges. The migration of such teachers from private colleges to government colleges and universities would be affected as well. More importantly, this will lead to a major faculty predicament in Delhi University.
Says Mitali Mishra, professor at Lady Shri Ram College, “This strike is for the sake of our professional dignity… We are all permanent teachers and the problem of the NET exam doesn’t effect us directly. However that does not prevent us from protesting against an unfair system which is holding our profession back and preventing a lot of talented people from taking up teaching. The NET exam has often been criticised at the highest committees but no decisive action has ever come out of it. The authorities should either make the NET a better test or do away with it altogether”.
After allegedly observing a fall in the quality of teachers at the university and college level, the Bhalchander Mungelkar Committee decided to make the NET/SLET compulsory .It now remains to be seen whether DUTA will have its way in the immediate future or not.