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She SLETs better, lets job go

Lecturer post vacant: Raidighi College, South 24-Parganas. Subject: English. Candidate selected: a woman from Calcutta.

Lecturer post vacant: Sunderbans Mahavidyalaya, South 24-Parganas. Subject: English. Candidate selected: a woman from Calcutta.

Lecturer post vacant: Vivekananda College, Madhyamgram, North 24-Parganas. Subject: history. Candidate selected: a woman from Calcutta.

Lecturer post vacant: Vivekananda Satabarshiki College, Kharagpur. Subject: political science. Candidate selected: a woman from Calcutta.

“The ladies of Calcutta are better by far,” sang Peter Sellers decades ago. Today, the results for the State Level Eligibility Test (SLET), conducted for recruitment of college teachers, have shown that women are, indeed, the better bet when it comes to the humanities stream.

These are the trends revealed by the SLET results of the past few years. The test is conducted by the West Bengal College Service Commission to recruit lecturers to the 340-plus state-aided under-graduate colleges in the state.

“There’s no doubt that the performance of Calcutta’s women candidates is the best in SLET as far as certain humanities group subjects, like history, political science, education and English, are concerned,” said commission chairman A.K. Banik.

But there’s a twist in this tale of womanpower that could prove damaging for the education system. The same Calcutta women who are scoring over men are increasingly turning down offers to teach in institutions outside Calcutta.

This year alone, nearly 50 selected women from Calcutta have refused offers to take up teaching assignments beyond city limits. And that is a serious cause for concern, for both the commission and the government.

A large number of lecturers’ posts, therefore, continue to remain vacant, putting the authorities of these institutions in more than a spot of bother when it comes to running their under-graduate courses smoothly.

For instance, the commission this year had recommended a woman candidate from Calcutta for a lecturer’s post in a college at Raidighi, South 24-Parganas. The candidate has refused the offer. The three other candidates next in line on the merit list, all from the city, have also turned down the offer.

“This means that we will have to wait for another year till another panel is prepared for a suitable candidate to fill up the vacancy in English. Till then, students of English will suffer,” lamented Banik.

All candidates appearing for SLET are allowed three options for their postings. “They (women candidates from the city) put down a college in Calcutta proper as the first option, but it later turns out to be their only option, putting us in a difficult position,” said Banik.

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