The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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5-year term with tests for teachers

New Delhi, Nov. 7: If the University Grants Commission has its way, college and university teachers will have to clear a test every five years to retain their jobs.

The UGC has put forward a proposal for hiring its staff on contract, which will be renewed every five years only if the teacher can show substantive academic work to his or her credit.

This may include feedback from students, research work and published articles and books.

“We are starting a debate on a crucial aspect of education reforms. The proposal has been sent to the National Institution of Educational Research and Planning so that they can organise seminars and meetings to discuss the issue,” said UGC chairperson Arun Nigvekar. However, he added that it would take a long time for the proposal to be implemented. “Any reforms takes a long time to come through.”

The main objective behind the policy of contractual appointments, according to Nigvekar, is that India has to go for drastic reforms in higher education to meet the challenges of the new regime dictated by the World Trade Organisation.

“After April 2004, the education sector will be formally opened up to foreign institutions. Unless we gear up to meet this challenge, we will lose out,” Nigvekar said.

Anticipating serious resistance from teachers, the UGC chairperson said they are prepared to thrash out the issue through public discussions and debates.

“It may take as long as a year for us to reach any consensus,” adds Nigvekar. “But the process of reforms cannot be kept in abeyance anymore.”

Foreign institutions have already entered the education sector through the “backdoor” — through programmes of distance education and the franchise system.

“Whether we like it or not private and foreign agencies are already operating in the sector, both at the primary and higher levels,” said Nigvekar. At present, there are 20-23 universities from UK, 18-20 from Australia and 4 from New Zealand operating from India in various forms.

Two years from now, foreign universities will make formal forays into the country and set up branches.

The competition will only go up. “Our efficiency and competence levels will have to match theirs,” said Nigvekar.

Contract appointments are common in most countries abroad. Some, like Pune University, Nigvekar said, have already accepted the mode of appointment in India.

Though both the Centre and the UGC said the government is not withdrawing from the education sector, they insisted that the changes are required to keep pace with time.

Of late, the UGC has been trying to impose an additional workload on teachers — a move that has come in for a lot of resistance from teachers’ bodies— through a string of circulars. Recently, Delhi University teachers went on strike to protest the UGC’s guidelines. “This is a knee-jerk reaction,” said Nigvekar.

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