The failure of Calcutta University (CU) to implement a state government recommendation, asking it to change the composition of the governing bodies of CU-affiliated colleges, has led to a problem: the university authorities cannot take penal action against teachers for neglecting examination-related duties.
Going by the government rules, the university enjoys only the power to suggest penal action against errant teachers.
The ultimate decision on awarding punishment remains with the college governing bodies, which are dominated by teachers’ representatives.
The state government, anticipating the university’s problem, had suggested five years ago that it amend a statute regarding the composition of the governing bodies of its affiliated under-graduate colleges.
“We found the governing bodies of many colleges preferred lenient action against teachers. So, we suggested that CU and the other universities establish a balance between the number of teachers and other representatives on the governing bodies of colleges. But neither CU nor the other universities accepted our proposal,” said an official of the West Bengal Council for Higher Education.
Alarmed over the increasing number of lawsuits filed by examinees last year, CU has adopted certain measures to make the results of major under-graduate examinations error-free, as far as possible. As a part of its drive, it has sought explanations from at least 300 teachers for neglect of duty in the under-graduate examinations of 2002.
The teachers have already started sending in their replies to the controller of examinations department. The university will refer the “unsatisfactory” replies to the governing bodies of the respective colleges for taking suitable penal action against the teachers.
“The entire exercise appears to be futile, as the governing bodies of the colleges are all dominated by teachers’ representatives. We wonder whether our drive to tone up the exam system will succeed in this kind of a situation,” said an official of CU’s examination department.
The number of members on college governing bodies varies between 12 and 14. Teachers have a maximum of four representatives, two are from the government, two from CU and a single each from students, non-teaching and supervisory staff. In most colleges, the two members representing the university are teachers.
Suranjan Das, CU pro vice-chancellor (academic) said he has recently held a discussion with leaders of prominent teachers’ lobbies, who have given him an assurance not to “provide undue protection to any teacher found to have neglected examination duties”.