Should ad-hoc teachers remain substitutes for good

Recently Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) staged a protest demanding absorption of ad-hoc teachers. Several teachers who joined in the protest urged the need for a one-time bill or regulation in Parliament to absorb them in permanent positions. With the fear of displacement staring them in the face, the ad-hoc teachers continue to remain at the periphery — and a stop gap arrangement. Their plight is hardly different in some of the schools, often surviving on their strengths yet depriving them of basic benefits.

“At the University of Delhi, it is a long-standing issue, following which DUTA has been pursuing the demand for 4,500 ad-hoc and temporary assistant professors,” says DUTA president AK Bhagi, pointing to the fact that these teachers have been working on full-time and substantive posts. “Over 50% of the adhoc and temporary teachers belong to marginalised sections of society (SC, ST, OBC & PWD category). Moreover, over 50% of these teachers across the categories are women. While the eligibility criteria of all categories — permanent, temporary and adhoc assistant professors in the university remain the same, there is a marked difference in the service of the ad-hoc teachers as compared to the temporary and permanent teachers. The ad-hoc teachers are paid initial of full UGC pay scale; they are given one day notional break after 120 days or before and then their services are renewed. But they are under the constant threat of losing their jobs. These teachers are deprived of annual increments, promotion, medical benefits, maternity benefits for a long time and childcare leaves,” says Bhagi.


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One-time regulation

He explains, “Though the university and its affiliated colleges advertised teaching posts in 2015, 2017 and 2019, it failed to conduct interviews in majority of the departments and colleges. The non-filling up of permanent positions has culminated in a situation where the proportion of adhoc teachers has surpassed 50% of the total teachers’ strength currently working in DU and its constituent colleges. This also violates the permissible UGC norm of maximum 10% of the sanctioned posts through non-permanent teachers.” Bhagi emphasises that Delhi University, UGC and MoE together should frame the modalities to absorb these teachers by bringing One Time Extraordinary Ordinance/Bill to address the situation.

Abha Dev Habib, associate professor, Miranda House, attributes the rise in ad-hoc teachers to the continuous academic restructuring at DU since 2010 — from annual system to semester system, to roll back of FYUP, followed by choice-based credit system, and the revival of FYUP all over again. “We want the government to bring in a Regulation to allow one-time absorption of the teachers who are working. Teachers with NET qualifications and research experience who have given the best years of their lives to the university should not be asked to go. Today, the number of ad-hoc teachers in any unit at DU ranges from 30%-80%. We fear that if teachers’ posts are made permanent under the EWS reservation category, many of these teachers will lose their jobs. Further, the recent impetus to shift to online teaching and courses may lead to massive job loss for the teachers,” she says, stressing that recruitment should be done on a routine basis to avert the current scenario.

Permanent teachers needed

“The concept of ad-hoc teachers is generally a feature of government institutions where such recruitment occurs to fill specific posts lying vacant. Since we, as private institutions, do not require government approval, such posts usually do not lie vacant,” says Anil Pinto, registrar, Christ Deemed-to-be-University, Bengaluru, adding that some of the ad-hoc teachers lack the requisite PhDs and publications due to which they may not find permanent placements. “The government must fill all the posts with permanent teachers, so that students get quality education and teachers who are full-time employees, engage in institution-building,” Pinto adds.

Avoiding disparity

In schools, the reliance on ad-hoc teachers is variable. “They are boarded so that we get additional support in students’ learning and also groom them to become full-time resources,” says Madhuri Sagale, Principal, Orchids The International School, Thane, emphasising that none of the adhoc teachers get “step-motherly” treatment in her school and receive a similar package to those who are on the company’s payroll. Sagale highlights that the ‘Guru’ in any setup should be treated with respect, and at her school, it is the same core value that is followed.

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