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Class crisis in faculty cut

There are too few teachers for too many classes in several under-graduate colleges in Calcutta and the districts, making it tough for them to devise a proper timetable.

The classroom crisis has been triggered by the government decision to sanction a limited number of teaching posts for each institution. The Union government had despatched a directive to the state government in 2001, stating that each of the 340-odd under-graduate colleges in the state should have a uniform number of teachers for every subject.

Under the prevailing system, teaching posts in colleges are sanctioned on the basis of student strength. But the Bengal government recently announced a new system for sanctioning of full-time teaching posts, along the lines of the Central directive.

For example, colleges can now have a maximum of seven full-time teachers for an honours course on any laboratory-based subject. To run any honours course in humanities, colleges will be allowed a maximum of four full-time teaching posts.

Ajit Banik, chairman, West Bengal College Service Commission, said the government has implemented the fewer-faculty decision after discussing the matter in detail with experts.

Sources said some colleges operating more than one shift are the worst hit by the ‘uniform number of teachers’ diktat. A teacher of the English (honours) department of Narasingha Dutta College, which has morning, evening and night sections, said: “The subject-wise enrolment of students in our college is much more than any institution operating on a single shift. Is it possible to run the English (honours) course in all our three sections with just four full-time teachers'” he demanded.

There are eight full-time teachers in the English department of Narasingha Dutta College. The Howrah college will be allowed to carry on with the existing teacher strength, but once four of the eight teachers retire, the vacant posts will not be filled up. Instead, the posts will be transferred to a college with less than four full-time teachers in the subject.

The same norm will apply to other ‘over-staffed’ colleges. Ajit Banik, however, said the government would sanction separate teaching posts for colleges with more than one shift. But for that, the colleges must abide by certain rules. For instance, they will have to stop admitting students on different shifts through a centralised system.

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