The Telegraph
Saturday , December 22 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Principal’s age in for a rethink

Guwahati, Dec. 21: Dispur has agreed to consider the college teachers’ demand to raise the eligibility age for the post of principal from 50 to 55 in the state to assuage the hurt feelings of senior faculty members.

Education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma gave this assurance to a delegation of Assam College Teachers’ Association during a marathon meeting yesterday.

The association has been opposing the age limit of 50, as many faculty members had been deprived of the coveted post despite years of service.

“In 2010, the state government came out with a college management rule stipulating that any faculty member aged 50 and having 15 years of continuous service would be eligible to become principal. Since then, the government has appointed teachers of nearly 80 provincialised colleges in the state with less than 20 years of service as principals on the criteria that they were aged 50,” ACTA general secretary Biswajit Bhuyan said.

A source in Dispur said the idea behind the move was to appoint younger people in the coveted post and, in turn, infuse more energy into the management of colleges.

Bhuyan said the move’s downside was that faculty members aged above 55 and having nearly 30 years of service were deprived of the post. It was very insulting for such senior faculty members to see much younger colleagues with less work experience become heads of their respective colleges, he added.

“Seniority and long work experience is very important to hold a responsible post like that of principal. We believe 55 is the right age. We are happy that the government has assured us that the demand would be considered,” he said.

Further, justifying their demand, Bhuyan said a principal was now appointed for five years and was eligible for reappointment for another term. “Suppose a faculty member becomes a principal at 50 and he or she is not reappointed after five years. The person will have to go back to his department as head or associate professor, which is another humiliation,” he said.

If, however, the eligibility age is raised to 55, a principal gets to serve only one term and then superannuate, as the retirement age of college teachers is 60, thus doing away with the embarrassment of having to serve in a lower post after being at the top.

Director of higher education Phanidhar Jidung, who was present in yesterday’s meeting, said the issue would be discussed in detail before a final decision was taken.

Bhuyan said the meeting also discussed promotion of college teachers, which has been on hold since February without any government notification. He said they had made it clear that they would resort to an agitation if a positive decision were not taken immediately.

The association has also demanded that the government must come out with a formal notification on installation of biometric punching machines to digitally record teachers’ attendance in colleges as no such notice had been issued yet.

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