By Mir Abas
HE did not enter the staff room, he barged in; he did not speak with respect, he shouted at; he did not talk like a fellow teacher, he addressed a bonded labourer, because he was a permanent college Professor speaking to a Lecturer appointed on ‘academic arrangement’.
Feeling humiliated and rebuked, the Lecturer felt silent and spoke no word. Few minutes later, he groaned and said, “Aah – my hard Luck – my research, my experience, my education – got me a job of Rs. 28,000 – and left me to vultures who know-me-not”. In the sea of pain, he murmured, “At home, I am a Lecturer, to students I am contractual, for government I am an Academic Arrangement, permanent faculty members treat me like a bonded labourer, and non-teaching staff find writing Dr. as my title as abominable”. As he sighed, I was reminded of Colleen Wilcox, an educator and administrator, who describes teaching as the greatest act of optimism, and I could see pessimism at its peak.
While, academic arrangement culture is a regressive system that works on a ‘hired to be fired’ policy, wherein Damocles’ sword constantly hangs over their heads of the appointees, without any certainty of future due to lack of job security, it is also a segregationist system that matches the Apartheid, wherein ‘Haves’ (read permanent faculty members) prejudicially distinguish the ‘Have-nots’ (read non-permanent academic arrangement faculty members). This apartheid system emerges, not from the qualification and worth of the people, but from the nature of appointment, salary and status. The people, who have permanent appointment, get over a lakh monthly salary and have a prefix of a professor deem it necessary to maintain a gap against the un-equals who have been selected for an academic session, with one third of their salary, and banned from using ‘Assistant Professor’ tag despite doing the same job.
In this system, the salary of an academic arrangement faculty member is deducted for his late arrival to the duty, and the permanent faculty member is free to come and leave as per his own wishes and whims. In this culture, a professor avoids having more than one teaching session a day and an academic arrangement faculty member has to hold five classes for the same duration. Every act/duty that earns good remuneration is to be done by the permanent folks; they are to take the credit of all good happening around, the academic arrangements will collect money for excursions from students and make lists of students who are to be penalized.
To this rule, the existence of a Staff Association/Council of an annual tenure for the permanents is a must, but no such permission shall be granted to those who actually need it the most. The humiliating and exploitative experience of teachers who do not receive the full salary, are temporary and face apartheid of a kind, nullifies the very objectives of the educational policy (NEP-2020) which supposedly seeks respect, dignity, and autonomy at all levels for teaching professionals.
The rulers of the day are happy that highly educated people are competing for peanuts, the society is happy that their wards are graduating, the permanent faculty members enjoy reign over the bonded labourers, and in the midst of this, the cream of the society – that harboured talent, was energetic and owned power to create a learned generation- is lost in hopelessness and humiliation.
The conscience of rulers will not awaken as it has consistently been none of their concerns, the rich and established people will never intervene as their children do not enrol in these institutions; it is for the poor and middle class people to ponder because it is their children who are ruined in this hopeless education system.
My personal experience with the Academic Arrangement system and with the permanent faculty members has been horrific, and I would wish no young lad fall to this crisis of immense magnitude. Before we lose our youthful days in this temporary system that creates a permanent impairment in our thought and practice, it is better to revolt and rise.
The author is a Lecturer of English and can be reached at [email protected]
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