Lack of consensus over seniority is holding up appointment of principals to government arts and science colleges even as teachers and students wait.

Government Arts and Science colleges are struggling to compete with private colleges run professionally across Tamil Nadu. To add to the woes of the government institutions, there are no officially-designated principals in 61 out of the 62 arts and science colleges run by the government.

As the senior most professor has been thrust upon the duty of ‘principal in-charge', the colleges have not been able to function to their potential. In many cases, the principals in-charge, without cooperation, struggle to take important decisions, resolve student issues and carry out administrative work efficiently. Out of fear, the principals in-charge most often refuse to take any decision.

The vacancies create a lot of problem which not only affects the teachers but also the student community. “For any demand we put forth to the principal in-charge, the standard answer we get from the principal is that he was not authorised to take decisions as a principal in-charge,” says a student union leader in a Chennai college.

After litigation over the merit of the seniority list prepared by the government, the Madras High Court ordered that the Directorate of Collegiate Education prepare inter-se seniority list on or before May 31 and only on the basis of the said seniority list, the principal posts which are lying vacant have to be filled up. “We are still in the process of trying to reach a consensus on the seniority issue with the parties that are insisting on different eligibility criteria for appointment following which the appointments will be made,” says R. Umarani, director of Collegiate Education.

Even when the case was pending before the Madras High Court, the government promoted two as principals. Four senior professors went to the court after the promotions to the posts of principals in Krishnagiri and Dindigul following which the High Court restrained the government from appointing principals.

The Tamil Nadu Government Collegiate Teachers' Association (TNGCTA) insists on taking into account certain issues before finalising the seniority list. “As per the Government Order dated 3.10.2005, those having more than six years of service by 2011 should have acquired Ph.D for appointment to the post of principal. It is not yet clear if this clause will be incorporated in the appointments, as there are chances of the issue being challenged in which case the appointment will become futile,” says K.G. Palani, president, TNGCTA. The post of principals involves financial transactions as well as administrative work which are entirely different from teaching in the classroom. Therefore the government should be careful in preparing the seniority list, he insists.

Vacancies at DCE

Not just in colleges, the vacancies of top posts are piling up in the Directorate of Collegiate Education, the governing body for collegiate education in the State. The posts of two Joint Directors and four Regional Joint Directors are waiting to be filled. At present, the posts of the two JDs and the Chennai Regional Joint Director are being held by Ms. Umarani, apart from her position as the director.

While the RJD-Tirunelveli holds Vellore RJD post, Coimbatore RJD is in charge of Tiruchi RJD as well. “How can someone from Vellore manage the administrative work in Tirunelveli or someone from Coimbatore manage Tiruchi? Appointments to these posts should be made without further delay,” says S. Tamilmani, general secretary, TNGCTA.

This pathetic state of affairs in government institutions has been brought to the attention of P. Palaniappan, Higher Education Minister in the new government, and R. Kannan, principal secretary, Higher Education Department. According to sources, the government has decided to put up a tentative seniority list on the website to which objections can be raised following which the final list will be issued.