Spat with teachers over conduct of valuation camps

‘A controversy that could have been eminently avoided’ — sums up the ongoing spat between a section of teachers and the University of Kerala which has organised 12 centralised valuation camps for the second and fourth semester examinations of degree and postgraduate courses.

Contrary to the practice followed till last year, the varsity decided to depute teachers to valuation camps in the district where their respective colleges are located. Till last year, the teachers were asked to mark their preference for camps; many used to choose the camp closest to their homes.

This year’s ‘controversy’ began when some teachers reported to camps close to where they resided and the varsity took a firm stand that such teachers would not be allowed to participate in the camps.

The varsity’s stand was that this year’s reform in deputing teachers to camps was effected to ensure uniform availability of teachers across the 12 camps. “In the past it has so happened that there was a surplus of teachers in some camps and acute shortage of evaluators in some other camps. We decided to effect this year’s reform so that the camps can function smoothly and get over fast,” Controller of Examinations K. Madhukumar told The Hindu. This change was made known to representatives of teachers’ organisations, he added.

For their part, teachers’ organisations hold that there were no clear instructions from the varsity on this year’s ‘reforms’ in the conduct of the camps.

A costly affair

That said, these camps — six in Thiruvananthapuram; four, in Kollam; and one each in Alappuzha and Pandalam — was proving to be a costly affair to the varsity in more ways than one. According to university officials, these camps would end up costing the varsity close to Rs.80 lakh. A lion’s share of this would be for providing TA and DA for teachers at the camps; a fact that appears to be lost amidst the ‘reform’ controversy.

The University Grants Commission mandates that invigilation of examinations and evaluation of answer sheets form part of a teacher’s duty. It follows that no separate payment need be made to teachers for doing such work. Teachers who oppose this rule point out that they are also asked to evaluate answer sheets of private registration candidates and those in the distance-education stream. This justifies the payment, they have argued.

In the case of these camps, this argument does not appear to be true.

According to Mr. Madhukumar and other university officials who spoke to The Hindu on this issue, the teachers at these camps have to evaluate the answer sheets of only regular, college-going students.

Even as it grapples with its ‘camp’ headache, the varsity is also reportedly looking into the merits of restricting centralised camps to only the final semester examinations and allowing ‘home valuation’ for all the other examinations.