Statement in Solidarity with Delhi University Teachers Strike-DSU


4 May 2016

Revoke the draconian UGC Notification!
Roll Back API (PBAS)
Resist Privatisation and Saffronisation of Education!

Teachers from Delhi University and other universities across the subcontinent have been protesting against the draconian UGC Gazette Notifications of 4th May 2016. From 24th May, protesting teachers in Delhi University have boycotted evaluation of undergraduate answer papers demanding the withdrawal of the UGC Notification and roll back of Academic Performance Index (API) PBAS. In a historic general body meeting that was held by Delhi University Teachers’ Association last Saturday, thousands of teachers stood with the demand and the strike has been extended till 6th June. DSU extends it solidarity to the striking teachers and stands with the demands of academicians and teachers across the subcontinent to withdraw the draconian notification and roll back of API (PBAS).

In the name of accessing the performance of teachers (API), the Gazette Notification proposes harsh reformulation of the workload of teachers by changing the definition of “Direct Teaching Hours” by excluding Tutorials and undervaluing Practicals (2 Practicals would be considered as equivalent to 1). Previously, as per the UGC Regulations of 2010, lectures, tutorials and practicals combined were considered to tally the teaching hours. Accordingly, Assistant Professors required to take 16 hours of classes in a week and Associate Professors, 14 hours. Now, the recent Gazette Notification demands 18+ 6 Tutorials (24 hours) for Assistant Professors and 22 hours for Associate Professors.

Adversely affecting the already poor teacher-student ratio, this undemocratic notification means that there would be a 50%increase in workload for a single teacher and drastic reduction in the time required for preparation and individual assessment of students through the form of tutorials or practicals. Though the formats of lecture, tutorials and practicals vary, the amount of preparation and engagement remains the same. Moreover, the recent undervaluing of practicals and tutorials is a clear indication of how education is being rendered as a lifeless good exchanged in the ever intensifying agenda of commercialisation and saffronisation of higher education propelled by the brahmanical ruling classes. Apart from making research, academics and teaching into a quantifiable system, API and PBAS (Point Based Appraisal System) is a clear measure to disallow promotions and destroy the spirit of teaching as an ever engaging experience and education as something that probes one to constantly learn, unlearn, think, search and research. This attack also portends the bureaucratisation of education and teaching as a profession with the deliberate attempt to censor the exchange of ideas between teachers and students outside the formal space of course work related lectures, Tearing apart the very ethos of education as exchange of ideas, thoughts and different subjective experiences, the anti-people government has been intensifying its attack on public institutions of education among many other public bodies.

The drastic increase in the workload of a teacher (by 50%) by increasing so called “Direct Teaching Hours” is primarily an assault on the very medium of knowledge exchange whereby students from marginalised and oppressed sections who benefitted from tutorials and out of classroom interactions with teachers would suffer. Moreover, this also points towards the government’s agenda of cutting down the number of teachers. That is, the number of “Direct Teaching Hours” decides the number of teachers employed in a particular educational institute. If the recent Notification is to be put in motion, it would mean that atleast 5000 teachers would be laid off from Delhi University alone according to a press release by DUTA. Again, the most severely affected would be the young and overexploited crowd of ad-hock and temporary teachers across universities in the country.

With utterly poor amenities and infrastructure and bare facilities, in contemporary times, the onus and the challenge of maintaining the quality of research and academic pursuit remains solely on the shoulders of those thousands in academia who are resisting privatisation and fund cuts and simultaneously producing remarkable research works. Today, most educational institutions, especially public funded educational institutions are being gradually destroyed through the anti-student, anti-teacher and anti-education policies of the government. Through fund cuts in education, destruction and saffronisation of institutional bodies, decline of UGC and other such institutions, introduction of semester system, Central Universities Bill, FYUP and recently the Choice Based Credit System in universities, and implementation of draconian notification to supposedly access the performance of teachers and their promotion, the ruling classes are shamelessly and aggressively pushing forth the agenda of privatisation of education. According to the recent WTO-GATS agreement signed by the Modi government despite massive resistance by students, teachers and people across the country, education has been made into a service oriented tradable good. The present assault on teachers comes on the heels of the continuing spate of assault on education.

We reiterate our support and solidarity with striking teachers of Delhi University and other universities across the subcontinent. DSU stands with the demand to roll back API (PBAS) and the draconian UGC Gazette Notification. Let us unite to fight tooth and nail against the draconian polices of the present government and their agenda of privatisation and saffronisation of education to assert Education as is our right.

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