New Delhi: The Centre has set the ball rolling for the recruitment of up to five lakh teaching staff in a time-bound manner. These teaching posts have been lying vacant in higher educational institutions across the country for over 15 years, according to the minutes of a meeting held at the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD).

According to the minutes of the meeting that are in the possession of The Sunday Guardian, the decision to start the recruitment process of teachers for higher educational institutions was taken at a meeting held on 21 May 2019 at Shastri Bhavan, the building that houses the MHRD office. The meeting was chaired by R. Subrahmanyam, Secretary, Higher Education (HE), and attended by Professor Rajneesh Jain, Secretary, University Grants Commission (UGC), Ishita Roy, Joint Secretary (HE and ICR), Professor Venkatesh Kumar, National Coordinator, Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), and Anant Ajay Kakodekar, an intern from IIT Mumbai.

“At the outset, R. Subrahmanyam stated that a massive programme needed to be launched to fill up to 5 lakh vacancies in a time-bound manner in higher education institutions across the country,” the minutes of the meeting read.

With regards to recruitments, the standard operating procedures were discussed in detail and an outline was sketched for the same.

“The vacancy positions in higher educational institutions will be collected and consolidated and monitored under three categories—first, the vacancies in state public universities/aided institutions by the JS (HE) through RUSA; second, the Technical management and Stand Alone Institutions by the AS (TE) through AICTE, and third, state private universities and constituent colleges will be taken care by JS (HE) through UGC. Finally, the remaining higher education institutions by the respective bureau heads of the Department of Higher Education,” the minutes of the meeting read.

“The UGC will start an integrated portal to monitor the filling up of posts against regular sanctioned strength and ensure finalisation of the roster in accordance with the DoPT guidelines entailing reservation for SCs/STs/SEBCs and EWS category in universities and colleges…The portal will indicate sanctioned positions, filled up and vacant status along with date of notification of vacancies. It will further have time frames for recruitment,” the minutes add.

Following the directions of the MHRD, UGC Secretary Rajnish Jain on Tuesday directed all higher educational institutions including universities, colleges, and institutions deemed to be universities to “adhere to the guidelines in letter and spirit”.

The UGC has instructed the higher educational institutions that the collection and consolidation of vacancies, permission from competent authorities to fill them, and their advertisement should be completed in the next 60 days. During the same time period, institutions have to constitute selection committee, schedule dates for selection committee meetings and for scrutiny of applications.

The UGC guideline states that higher educational institutions need to conduct interviews by October 2019, and issue appointment letters by November 2019. The lackadaisical approach towards filling up of vacant posts by successive Central governments pushed the universities to hire contractual teachers. In Delhi University (DU) alone, around 5,000 teaching staff posts are vacant. Teachers of DU have welcomed the initiative.

Dr Panakj Kumar Garg of DU told The Sunday Guardian: “The step of the MHRD is going to bring relief to thousands of teachers working on ad-hoc/contractual basis in various universities and in particular the initiative has brought cheer for around 4,500 ad-hoc teachers who are working across the colleges of DU.”

“In most DU colleges, the UGC norms of 14-hour teaching workload for Associate Professors and 16-hour teaching workload for Assistant Professors are not met as most of them end up working more hours than the prescribed limit. So the appointment of new teachers will ease the service schedules of the existing teachers also,” Garg said.

“I hope the process of recruitment does not end like the earlier one in 2017. On the direction of the HRD minister, over 3,000 vacant teaching posts in various colleges were advertised, but they were not filled. Similarly, more than 23 vacant posts of principals of various colleges were advertised as per the schedule sent by UGC/HRD, but only nine posts were filled,” Garg said.

The government’s own data released before the Lok Sabha elections says that there is a 33% shortage of teaching staff in higher educational institutions. Even the flagship Indian Institute of Technology has a shortage of 2,802 teaching staff, which is around 34% of the total number of existing teachers.

The country spent 4.13% of its GDP on education in 2014, according to MHRD data. This is lower than the UK, US and South Africa, countries that spent 5.68%, 5.22% and 6.05%, respectively, of their total GDP on education. However, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Central government has promised to increase funds to education.

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