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Guest lecturers working in various government arts, science and engineering colleges for long are shocked at the Higher Education Minister Ponmudi’s announcement that the Teachers’ Recruitment Board (TRB) would conduct examinations to fill 4,034 assistant professor vacancies in those colleges.

An analysis of why this announcement of the TRB exam annoys the guest lecturers drives home their poignancy and plight.

Filled vacancies
About 10 years ago, the posts of assistant professors in government colleges were filled on the basis of work experience and interviews, but no written exam was conducted. In the recruitment, weightage was given to those with a portfolio of research articles, teaching experience and higher educational qualifications. The interview system of awarding 15 marks out of 34 to guest lecturers with over seven and half years’ work experience had been in vogue till 2011. No further recruitment has since been conducted.

But in 2019 the government announced a recruitment drive to fill 2,331 assistant professor posts and received about 40,000 applications on which no follow-up, however, was taken. Again in 2020 a G.O. (56) was released, announcing the appointment of 1,146 guest lecturers as assistant professors. Besides, certificate verification sessions were held from Feb.15 to 18, 2021. When the candidates were waiting for interviews, the code of conduct came into force ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections.  So, the interview process was put on hold.

About 10 years ago, the posts of assistant professor in government colleges were filled on the basis of work experience and interviews, but no written exam was conducted

Weary guest lecturers
Against this background, now the DMK government is going to recruit 4,000 assistant professors through TRB exams with a total of 200 marks. But no G.O. has been published in this regard and hence there is confusion over the mode of exams. Not only guest lecturers but also private college teachers too can take the exams if they meet the criteria to be assistant professors.

Dr. S. S. Ramajayam, state chief coordinator, joint action committee of the Tamil Nadu Government Arts College Guest Lecturers’ Associations

Dr. S. S. Ramajayam, state chief coordinator, the joint action committee of the Tamil Nadu Government Arts College Guest Lecturers’ Associations, said, “Minister Ponmudi has announced that special marks will be awarded to the guest lecturers working in government colleges for over 10 years, who will be set for interview after clearing the first-phase exams. But the catch is that we will be filtered in the first phase itself.   Most of the guest lectures affected by the absence of recruitment for the past decade have been languishing in financial crises and mental depression, working for meager pay.  They are, in fact, tired of waiting for the government to regularize their services and some have crossed the age of 50.”

The guest lecturers have already experienced a wide spectrum of exams ranging from UG, PG, M.Phil, and Ph.D to NET, SET, TET etc.  “With a wide experience of taking exam after exam and working as guest lecturers for long, should we be tortured with one more exam, now through the TRB?,” he said in a tone tinged with sadness.

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The load of work the guest lecturers are burdened with in their everyday schedule is quite staggering, he said, adding that though they are doing assistant professors’ jobs, they don’t get the appropriate designation nor the matching salaries.  While an assistant professor’s pay is Rs.80,000, a guest lecturer gets just Rs. 20,000 for their endless work such as administrative matters, students’ admission, the conduct of exams, evaluation of answer sheets and so on.

“This is absolutely an exploitation going on unabated whatever party is at the helm of affairs in the state,” Ramajayam said. “We are by no means not against the exam system to recruit assistant professors.  What we need is justice and recognition of our services. Out of 4,000 posts proposed to be filled, at least 25 percent can be reserved for guest lecturers with over 10 years of experience. Or the exam can be conducted for the guest lecturers only.”

No concessions
When M Karunanidhi was Chief Minister in 2010, it was announced that the lecturers with Ph.D. and who pass in SLED/NET exams would be appointed as assistant professors within a year.

The guest lecturers are given promises, now and then, of career elevation; only the promises are not honored. They work longer hours and earn peanuts

The guest lecturers are given promises, now and then, of career elevation; only the promises are not honored. They work longer hours and earn peanuts.  The UGC rules stipulated a pay of Rs.25,000 for them in 2010 and enhanced it to Rs.50,000 in  2019.  But the government has saved up nearly Rs.1,500 crore in the past 12 years, paying the guest lecturers just Rs.20,000.

Tamil Nadu has earned the distinction of being one of the states with greater enrolment in higher education. The guest lecturers’ role in the state’s good performance on this count cannot be underestimated. But what they get is only a raw deal; no recognition, no career elevation and no pay hike!

“The guest lecturers’ lot is no less miserable than that of the bonded labourers. No concessions have been given to them such as life insurance, medical insurance, conveyance allowances, dearness allowance, bonus, time-bound pay hike and so on,” said Ramajayam.

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Their working condition still remains worse. In 80 cent of the colleges, the lecturers do not have their own seating arrangements. They have make-shift seats in the classrooms and labs. Women guest lecturers’ state is even worse. They do not have maternity leave because the government says they work just 11 months in a year.

The guest lecturers are never allowed to pursue post-doctoral research programs. Using this rule, corruption is mushrooming in several private colleges.


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