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Vacancy woes for college heads

Calcutta, Nov. 23: Heads of undergraduate colleges across the state are fuming at a recent government order refusing permission to fill up vacancies in reserved teaching posts with candidates from the general category.

The backward class welfare department had issued the order saying the principals of about 340 colleges will not be allowed to approach the state college service commission to recruit general category candidates to fill up teaching posts reserved for SC/ST candidates.

More than 800 reserved teaching posts are lying vacant for several years in the absence of suitable candidates. College principals say they are finding it difficult to carry out normal academic activities with so many posts lying vacant.

A delegation of principals will call on higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty next week and demand withdrawal of the ban on de-reservation. “It has become extremely difficult for us to offer quality teaching with so many posts (reserved) remaining vacant, year after year. The government should ensure that the reserved posts are filled up with general category candidates if suitable counterparts from the reserved categories are not found for a long time,” said Ranajit Basu, the general secretary of the West Bengal Principals’ Council.

There are departments in some colleges, Basu said, with only two full-time teachers. Out of the two posts, one is reserved. “How is it possible for the departments to ensure proper teaching if one out of the two posts is vacant for a long time'” he asked.

Officials in the backward class welfare department said the decision to stop the de-reservation was taken because most colleges were violating rules. The colleges were permitted to de-reserve a teaching post if they did not get a suitable candidate for a certain period of time. But the rules also made it mandatory for the colleges to ensure that a subsequent vacancy from the general category got reserved for an SC/ST candidate. Most colleges that were allowed to de-reserve the reserved posts did not follow this system, the officials said.

“Such lapses on the part of the colleges have led to serious resentment among the people of backward communities, as a result of which we had to stop the system of de-reservation,” said one of the officials.

He also confirmed that minister of state for backward class welfare Upen Kisku had taken up the matter with the higher education minister.

However, Ajit Banik, the chairman of the state college service commission — the agency that recruits teachers for the aided undergraduate colleges — said the colleges should be allowed to de-reserve the posts. “A good number of teachers in the reserved posts retire every year but hardly any fresh candidate is found in the recruitment tests,” he said.

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