Delhi University ad hoc teacher suicide: Chronicle of a tragedy foretold

Source– The post is based on the article “Delhi University ad hoc teacher suicide: Chronicle of a tragedy foretold” published in the “The Indian Express” on 6th May 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Issues related to development and management of education

Relevance– Faculty recruitment in higher educational institutions

News– Recently, an ad-hoc professor of Delhi University committed suicide after he was not given permanent appointment after 5 years of service.

What are the issues related to recruitment of permanent teachers by Delhi university that are relevant for other educational institutions also?

There had been no permanent appointments in most of the colleges for over a decade or more. So, there were thousands of applicants for the jobs.

Unlike the usual practice of shortlisting candidates for the interviews based on their credentials, everyone who had more than a certain number of regulation-demanded points in their API score was called.

API is the Academic Performance Index. It is a metric devised by the UGC to decide academic merit. But, a single metric cannot capture the total capabilities of a teacher.

The lower standards meant that every college had to interview hundreds and in some cases thousands of candidates. One college had more than 1,500 candidates in physics.

Each candidate was interviewed for only a few minutes by the board. Based on this limited interaction, candidates were selected for the appointment.

The criteria of academic merit was neglected. The candidate was recommended by certain “social and cultural organisations”.

What are the challenges faced by adhoc teachers of the university?

The ad-hoc teachers who had been teaching for more than 15 years, were not selected and were left without a job. College had renewed their contract year after year. So, there is less doubt about their competence in teaching.

A more sympathetic and humane administration could have devised creative ways for giving preference to existing ad-hoc teachers.

The chances of getting a teaching job for these displaced teachers in the future are very bleak. The government has decided that the expansion of institutions of higher education is no longer a priority. Instead, students are now encouraged to opt for online courses.

What are the limitations of online teaching?

Online teaching can at best supplement classroom interaction. The interaction with a teacher in a classroom, the peer group interaction plays a decisive role in learning and developing the “soft skills”. A video can never replicate that experience.

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