The issues of teachers being unavailable, missing lectures, or cancelling classes last minute is a common problem across the University of Delhi (DU). Where does the problem stem from and what do students think of the same?
Assistant Professors and Professors in the University of Delhi often end up missing classes. For freshers, what is even more fascinating is that while teachers often end up cancelling lectures, they continue to mark the attendance in the attendance register by taking the list of names of the students present from the Class Representative (CR). This makes sure that their attendance records show that a lecture took place, even when it did not. A student of a reputed DU college recalled an incident that throws more light on the same subject. He said, “Usually what happens is that the professor asks the CR to take attendance, which is fairly normal. But one day, I got a call from the professor (being the CR) that the class wouldn’t take place and that I should write the names of the students who showed up physically to study what the professor had to teach. The next day, the professor took the piece of paper with the names of the students and entered the ones present in the respective column for the previous day.”
Another student said, “My professor asks me to randomly mark the attendance, or just copy the names of those present today for a day before, as the professor couldn’t show up due to some unforeseen circumstances.”
A student recalled an incident when his teacher made an excuse regarding his child having a school function which had to be attended. Later, the same teacher was caught red-handed as he had uploaded an Instagram story where he was socialising instead of attending the school function, much to the amusement of the viewer, who was a student. These lies do injustice to working parents, who, at times, skip work to be present for the milestones of their children.
The issue of online attendance has been a long standing problem. The teaching fraternity is largely averse to it because it will effectively act as a check-and-balance system that will monitor them just as much as it will monitor students. A professor from a prominent college on being asked about his views on online attendance, stated, “Most of the teachers at this college oppose the trend of online attendance, because then it won’t only be the attendance for you kids, but also for us teachers.”
While there are genuine reasons for teachers to miss classes, they have also been unwittingly subjected to multiple duties in college, which makes them feel overburdened. Since it is a legitimate problem, it cannot be solved through temporary fixes, and certainly not at the cost of compromising the teaching hours for the student body. A senior professor, when asked about the multiple duties he had to perform, he exclaimed, “A single person is made the head of various departments and asked to perform the duties for all of them. Being it taking interviews for ad-hoc teaching positions, to looking into a fight that broke out due to some party nuisance. Sometimes I need to miss classes in order to complete pending work.”
However, a third year student of Bachelors in Mathematical Sciences from Keshav Mahavidyalaya stated, “ Teachers in our college are very strict when it comes to studies, so they show up in classes almost all the time and miss them only if they have some extremely important work to do.”
This shows that while some teachers scarcely miss classes, others do it for frivolous reasons. The issue of teachers being overworked is a genuine one, but missing classes to complete pending work is a great disservice to the student body and to the art of teaching.
Feature Image Credits: Saubhagya Saxena for DU Beat.