The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) has called for a boycott of evaluation of examination papers scheduled to begin from Wednesday. This call was supported by teachers across the University of Delhi (DU) as teachers did not report at evaluation centres.
According to a press circular that was sent to DU Beat by the President of DUTA Rajib Ray, teachers have been forced to take this extreme step because of the immediate crisis resulting from the speed and aggression with which the University Grants Commission (UGC) and Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) are moving towards the grant of financial autonomy to several colleges of DU.
The announcement was made ahead of the visit of the University Grants Commission (UGC) officials’ to St. Stephen’s College after its Governing Body (GB) had, in principle, agreed to apply for autonomy. Notably, a UGC team is expected to visit the college on 10th-11th May 2018 for inspection.
The press circular of DUTA, dated 9th May 2018, informed that the teachers’ body shall hold a protest outside St. Stephen’s College on 10th May 2018, 10 a.m. onwards against the visit of the UGC team.
In a phone call conversation, the DU Beat correspondent had asked President Rajib Ray on why such a drastic step is being taken, Ray clarified, “We are planning on such a course of action not only for our struggle against autonomy. There are a lot of reasons.”
He explained that these insidious attempts are part of the larger agenda to privatise and commercialise public-funded education in the country. This will push education out of the reach of a vast majority of students who come from underprivileged sections. The dismembering of DU will also have negative consequences for the working conditions of teachers and “karamcharis”. Colleges of repute who enjoy this status from being a part of DU will become nothing more than teaching shops, according to DUTA.
Ray further explained that the apathy of the University administration towards issues of promotions including counting of past service, appointments, and pension issues is causing unrest among the teachers of the varsity. The teachers’ body now demands that promotion matters be expedited and routine matters dealt with expeditiously, so that the day-to-day academic life of teachers is not affected.
DUTA executive Surendra Kumar told DU Beat, “Crisis we are facing is very high, nature of response is very slow. Whatever decision the DUTA as a body takes, we stand with it.”
Further speaking along similar lines, he told the correspondent, “We need to expand our horizons and, bring the common man of the nation into this struggle against privatisation.”
“As far as my sources are concerned, three colleges, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Hindu College and St. Stephen’s College are on the pipeline of getting autonomy. If the best colleges of the country are going towards this fate, how can the common man afford higher education anymore?” questioned Kumar.
In the aftermath of the University Grants Commission inviting Principals of as many as 30 DU colleges for a workshop to clear their doubts about the move towards greater autonomy, a member of the DU’s Executive Council, Rajesh Jha had spoken on the dangers of privatisation of higher education. Jha had said, “The move ultimately will commercialise the education at a university which is being run on taxpayers’ money to provide equal opportunities to all students.”
Significantly, Principals from a remarkable number of colleges affiliated to DU, including Hindu College, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Daulat Ram College, and Kamala Nehru College amongst others had taken part in the aforementioned workshop.
While the move towards autonomy is expected to give freedom to colleges to design and structure their courses in keeping with the changing methods of teaching, the move is being challenged by various quarters of the students’ and teachers’ community who are under the apprehension that this will eventually place the marginalised sections at a disadvantageous position.
Feature Image Credits: DNA India
Vaibhavi Sharma Pathak