TAMIL NADU

Education no exception to downsizing

CHENNAI Dec. 4. Education, a sector supposed to be out of the ambit of any downsizing efforts by the government, is no longer so, if one goes by a recent G.O. issued by the Higher Education department, withdrawing the re-employment facility for teachers who retire in mid-academic year.

The teachers/principals of the constituent and aided colleges, who retire in a mid-academic year, were (by a G.O. issued in 1989) allowed to be re-employed until the end of that academic year. The Higher Education department order, dated November 29, 2002, has withdrawn this facility. The aided and constituent college principals/teachers, who attain the superannuation age in the middle of the academic year, will be relieved on the last day of the same month.

According to officials in the Directorate of Collegiate Education, the G.O. was necessitated partly by the financial crunch but more because of the introduction of the semester and twin-vacation system. Re-employment was allowed until 1989, basically to avoid transfers in the middle of a year (to fill the retiree's post) and also to let the students have the benefit of coaching by the same person till that year-end.

But the scenario has now changed with transfers being done only once — at the start of the academic year. In the twin vacation system, the syllabi were completed faster and re-employed teachers "were getting pay for more than three months without much work." So the re-employment facility has been withdrawn and in the retiree's place, colleges would be allowed to appoint "temporary lecturers at a consolidated pay of Rs. 4,000 a month," officials say.

The new G.O. has also directed that the services of the principals and the teaching staff, who are already on re-employment, should be terminated by giving a month's notice.

Reacting to the order, the Association of University Teachers and the TN Government Collegiate Teachers Association have called for its revocation, saying it would affect the academic activity and students' interest. When principals retired, the administration would suffer, they note. They are also worried that these posts would never get filled, and in a few years hence, thousands of teachers would retire, and in their place, only part-time lecturers would be appointed.

Unapproved principal posts

The issue has another dimension in respect of about 25 principals, who are on re-employment, but whose postings are yet to be approved by the paying authority — the Directorate of Collegiate Education.

According to college teachers, the Government, while passing a G.O. for paying revised UGC pay scales to teachers, had stated that principals of aided colleges should have a Ph.D qualification, as fixed by the UGC. But it said, this rule would not be applicable to government colleges, where principals were appointed based on seniority.

The Association of Private Colleges went to court, stating that this portion of the G.O. was patently discriminatory against them, and got a ruling in their favour. This led to hopes among the aided college principals that their posts would get the DCE approval. However, the Government has gone on appeal.

So all these principals continue to draw only the pay scales of Readers/Professors, pending approval of the posts.

The affected principals contend that they were appointed as per the UGC norms and university regulations. The University Syndicate, of which the DCE and the Higher Education secretary are part of, had also recognised their postings.

With only a few weeks to go for retirement, they hope that the matter would be sorted out soon so that at least for their superannuation benefits they will get a principal's pay scale.

The Association of private colleges, sources say, is planning to file a direction petition seeking approval of all existing principal appointments, as the Division Bench has not given any stay on the single judge's order (in favour of the association).

Officials say they would also seek early hearings, and with the court's directions, review the qualifications for the principal posts, to protect the interests of the principals.

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