I have received letters from some of you, especially final year students, expressing your anxiety about the likely delay in results caused by the evaluation boycott protest of teachers, and appealing to teachers to withdraw this particular form of protest.
Let me assure you that we are equally keen to get back to evaluation and to work overtime to bring out your results at the earliest. In fact, this is not a form of protest we would have embarked on had the situation not been so devastating. You would have seen in the last three years, we observed a one-day strike only once when services of two teachers were terminated, preferring alternative forms of struggle even during the grimmest of battles such as those over the Semesterisation, FYUP, CBCS, debilitating administrative corruption, no permanent appointments, violation of Constitutional provisions of reservation, denial of promotions, a draconian Code of Conduct to suppress dissent and extreme forms of victimization.
The decision to withdraw from evaluation was taken after a Government Notification in May that declared that tutorials would no longer be counted as part of the direct teaching workload, and that two practical hours would be counted as one. This would drastically reduce the total number of sanctioned posts, effectively rendering about five thousand ad-hoc, temporary, guest teachers in Delhi University jobless. The remaining teachers would have to take double the number of courses, leading to doubling of preparation and assessment time and an inhuman and unrealistic workload. This, along with the devaluation of tutorials and practicals, would deprive students of crucial personal attention and severely dilute the quality of teaching and learning. The switch to the semester system has already reduced the time that was available for student-teacher interaction in the annual system due to examination pressure. The loss of posts would also take away employment avenues for thousands of research scholars all over the country. The drastic increase in student / teacher ratio would also push our global rank down further, as this is one of the major criteria in ranking. This apparently bizarre decision appears to have been prompted by a 55% deduction in Government grant to our funding authority viz the University Grants Commission in the Union Budget in February this year. This, along with all the ill-conceived academic restructuring that has been going on for the last few years, is in keeping with the Government policy to shift higher education to the self-financing, private business model. Teachers and students have been struggling against this policy as it will adversely affect the overall quality of higher education and make quality higher education inaccessible to most Indians.
The Government did not bother to ascertain the views of teachers before issuing this Gazette Notification. It is only after the agitation began that two Press Releases have been issued by the MHRD and a “consultation with stakeholders” held at the UGC. Neither of these yielded a clear written assurance that workload norms would remain the same, with tutorials being included in the direct teaching hours and practicals given full weightage. Given the devastation facing roughly five thousand ad-hoc, temporary and guest teachers, the DUTA had no option but to continue the Evaluation Boycott, along with other forms of protest such as rallies and court arrests. Please also understand that the majority of evaluators are precisely these ad-hoc and temporary teachers, who stand disengaged from employment as a result of the Gazette Notification. Legally, they cannot be asked to evaluate University scripts, when they are no longer employed by the University. Without them, it would be impossible to complete the evaluation process and declare results within a reasonable time.
The ongoing battle against degradation of public-funded higher education cannot be won without active participation by students. In particular, to ensure the early resumption of evaluation, students must put pressure on the MHRD and Government in every way possible, to give a clear written assurance that their negative decision has been reversed.
With love and solidarity,