Reshma Nair (name changed) is an M. Phil holder in English literature and a NET (national eligibility test) qualified candidate for appointment as Assistant Professor in colleges across the country. But her first job in a self-financing arts and science college here will offer her a pay packet of Rs. 12,000 a month. Her friends, who had joined aided colleges, will start their career with a take-home of nearly Rs. 30,000 based on the salary prescribed by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
Ms. Reshma is among thousands of teachers in self-financing art and science colleges in the State who are forced to earn wages as much or less than daily wage workers. The delay in formulating the service conditions of teachers in self-financing arts and science colleges has made their lives miserable.
Rajan Gurukkal, noted academic and former Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University, said the managements were showing gross injustice to the teachers by paying them a pittance. Mr. Gurukkal, who was head of a committee appointed by the previous Left Democratic Front regime to formulate the service conditions of teachers in self-financing institutions, said the managements had taken a stance that specialists were not required for delivering knowledge and appointed freshers as teachers at a meagre pay of Rs. 100 per hour. “Providing salary to teachers should not be considered as an expenditure. It’s an investment,” he said.
The committee for formulating the service conditions, headed by Prof. Gurukkal, could hold only one meeting before it became defunct after the United Democratic Front came to power.
B. Ekbal, former Vice-Chancellor of Kerala University, said little focus was given on the service conditions of teachers when the authorities gave their green signal for self-financing institutions. “The adverse impact is that the teaching quality would go down in such colleges as the managements might find it difficult to get qualified personnel for this poor pay packet,” he said.
Dr. Ekbal said the situation of teachers in self-financing institutions under the universities was no different. “They are also getting very low salary. As a regulatory body, universities also made a mistake by offering low salary package to teachers in the self-financing stream,” he said.
Rajan Varughese, former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University, said the monthly salary of Rs. 12, 000 offered by an institution was high compared to others that pay between Rs. 8,000 and Rs. 10,000. “There is huge disparity in pay in the self-financing sector, especially in the absence of proper service conditions,” he said.