Evaluation work of Pre-University Course answer scripts of Kannada and Economics was boycotted in at least two centres here on Friday. In one centre, an altercation is said to have led to the boycott.
The boycott was total at Canara PU College, centre for evaluation of Kannada papers, and partial at St. Agnes PU College where evaluation of Economics papers was on.
There was a furore at St. Agnes College in the afternoon following an incident there. PU teachers, who worked till mid-afternoon, boycotted the work after an altercation. According to the teachers, they started work at 10 a.m. and got the message that work was being boycotted at other centres. Even before they took take a decision, Meera S, Principal, Government College, Thenkamijar and observer for the evaluation centre, reportedly told them that if they decided to strike work, she would call the police and get them arrested. “She must be removed as she used foul language unbecoming of her role. She should be replaced as she caused us mental torture,” they alleged.
When The Hindu approached Ms. Meera, who was closeted in the principal's chambers in St. Agnes PU College, she declined to speak.
The teachers said they had been getting “unjust and step-motherly treatment” vis-a-vis teachers of degree colleges. They said that despite there being 5,000 vacancies for degree teachers in the State, PU teachers were not considered for those posts though they were qualified. “A Cabinet resolution is required to allow PU teachers to get into degree colleges. But we have got no response from the State Minister for Education, the Chief Minister or from MLCs,” they said.
They were protesting against pay disparity. “We get Rs. 11,400 to Rs. 21,600 which is inadequate and much less compared to what our counterparts get in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra”. A “Pay Committee” should be formed to examine the issue of salaries of PU teachers and provide interim relief, they said. At Canara PU College, teachers said: “PU teachers are PU teachers for life. One can teach for 25 years or even up to 30 years without any promotion.” A primary school teacher can move to high school but PU teachers cannot become degree teachers. This is despite having the same qualifications, workload and working for the same number of hours as degree college teachers.
Besides “equal pay for equal work”, they want academic training too. “We get no faculty improvement programmes unlike degree college teachers,” they said. This centre had 250 PU lecturers from Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada and had struck work totally on Friday. A decision on continuation or withdrawal of boycott of work here depends on the decision to be taken in Bangalore, they said.
Subrahmanya Bhat, on behalf of the teachers of Padavipoorva Praanshapaala Upanyasakara Bodhaka Mathu Bodhakathera Okkoota, said they had been agitating since 1998 for equal pay.
There are 35,000 PU teachers in the State, of which 9,000 are from government colleges and the rest are from unaided and private colleges. At least 700 of them are qualified to be degree teachers, they said. Mangalore has four evaluation centres for Kannada, English, Economics and History.