For all of us who grew up thinking that only students get “caught” for skipping class, it is time for a rethink. Three days from now, any teacher skipping class in Delhi University without cause will be “caught” and suitably punished. And, most important, students will do the catching; by placing an anonymous phone call to a helpline that the university has designed specially for this purpose.

“Complete anonymity is guaranteed. This is a move to curb teacher absenteeism,” said Vice-Chancellor Dinesh Singh. The service will be supplemented by a “flying squad,” a team that will have the power to enter a classroom without advance notice and investigate a complaint from a student.

“Time-tables of all teachers will now be available on the college website at all times. The time-table will have to mention how many teaching hours and tutorials are allotted to the teacher. In addition, class time-tables detailing lectures and information about a teacher on leave will have to be pasted on the notice board outside every classroom,” said Prof. Singh.

“The helpline staff have been trained to ask the right questions about the availability of the time-table and schedule of the teacher, along with details of the teacher and the number of classes skipped, whether it is a habit of the teacher or whether he/she has not turned up for class on a particular day.”

Prof. Singh revealed that the university had received around 2,000 written complaints from students that half their classes were not being held on account of perpetually absent teachers. “Some more complaints like these have been coming our way from the Student Empowerment Committee which visits colleges and talks informally to students, and feedback from students attending the Antardhvani festival.”

The complaint can also be sent by email and fax to the special address. A special application is in the pipeline. Prof. Singh has been known to pay surprise visits to colleges. Nine out of ten times, the visits have turned out be less than pleasant. Classrooms have been found empty and time-tables non-existent.

“We are not trying to make anything unpleasant for anybody but just trying to sort out the issue. We will work in cooperation with college principals.”

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