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JU trips on Saturday classes

Jadavpur University, the only one to be honoured with the Centre of Excellence award by the University Grants Commission (UGC), is struggling to conduct normal classes on Saturdays because of a decision to restrict the number of non-teaching staff and officials during the weekend.

The decision, implemented to cut costs and go along with the five-day-week regulation, has left several departments of the university in danger of violating the UGC's requirement of higher education institutions. It has also given teachers of some departments an opportunity to draw a full salary despite taking classes for four days a week.

All colleges and universities, according to UGC rules, have to have at least 30 weeks of six-day classes every academic year, making for at least 180 days of “teacher-student contact” in the classroom. But the university, despite strong opposition from all three faculties and the Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association for the past two years, went ahead with the five-day stipulation this July. Officials said the university authorities had no option but to bow to pressure from the strong CPM-affiliated employees’ lobby (Jadavpur University Karmachari Sansad).

To protect itself, the university decided to keep students and teachers out of the purview of the new set of rules, officials added. The circular, however, as a concession to the employees, mentioned that classes on Saturdays were going to be held only for the academic year 2002-2003 and said the administration would make the necessary changes in the duty roster of the non-teaching staff to ensure smooth functioning of academic activity on Saturdays.

In reality, however, the university appointed only one non-teaching staff for duty on Saturdays and said he would get his day-off (in lieu of Saturdays) on Mondays. This, say teachers, has made taking classes on Saturdays “difficult”. Most departments of the arts faculty have stopped holding classes altogether over the weekend, giving teachers three days off (Sunday, Saturday and their weekly day-off) and only four working days every week. Only one (the library and information science) department of that faculty is now taking classes on Saturdays, say teachers.

The science and engineering faculties are still holding classes on Saturdays, but with “lots of problems”. Holding workshops and laboratories has become “totally impossible” on Saturdays without the hands who belong to the non-teaching staff cadre, say teachers.

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