New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers' Cadre) Bill, 2019, that seeks to fill 7,000 existing vacancies in central universities by direct recruitment in teachers’ cadre, in accordance with a new quota system where a university is treated as a unit. However, there are approximately 3,44,714 vacant teaching positions that haunt the higher education system, according to government data.
The missing teachers
As per the ‘All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) portal 2017-18’, the total sanctioned strength is 14,07,373, while the in-position strength is 10,62,659, resulting in 3,44,714 vacant posts. On June 24, Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ quoted the figures in the Lok Sabha when asked about vacancies.
The new Bill will reserve positions in central education institutions for persons belonging to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward class and economically weaker sections of society (EWS). The Bill also seeks a 25% increase in student intake.
According to the recent survey, the total enrolment in higher education has been estimated to be 36.6 million of whom 19.2 million are boys and 17.4 million (47.6%) are girls. The ‘Gross Enrolment Ratio’ (GER) in higher education (for students belonging to 18-23 years age group) is 25.8%. While the GER for boys is 26.3%, for girls it is 25.4%. For scheduled castes, it is 21.8% and for scheduled tribes, it is 15.9%.
‘Increase in seats calls for adequate infrastructure and teachers’
The Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), in its report released in February, said an approximate 25 per cent increase in seats in higher educational institutions and universities is expected across the country. “This increase in seats calls for adequate infrastructure and teachers,” the think-tank said.
Many experts are of the opinion that the proposal in the new Bill regarding filling of vacancies “has come as a challenge before all public universities”. The shortage of qualified faculties is more prominent in the newly opened universities, according to CBGA.
“The shortage of qualified faculties is more prominent in the newly opened universities — around 48 per cent of the posts are vacant across all these universities and this figure is as high as 84 per cent in the central university of Odisha,” it said.
An expert said budgetary allocation by the Department of Higher Education must reflect resource commitment to implement this policy which promises 10% EWS quota and 25% increase in students among other things. However, the government has “proposed to invest an additional Rs, 4,576 crore in Higher Education Financing Agency, an agency which provides loan for infrastructure, to ‘meet the expenditure towards implementation of 10 per cent EWS reservation in higher education institutions’, the CBGA report states.
Rajib Ray, President of Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), said the teaching faculty was happy about the bill being passed, but it didn’t really end there. “The Bill also brings under its purview reservation for EWS which was absent in the Ordinance. DUTA reiterates its demand that the additional posts on account of expansion of student intake due to EWS reservation must be immediately sanctioned so that teachers working currently on ad-hoc basis are not rendered jobless,” he said.
In view of maintaining standards in higher education, especially when students from deprived sections are being admitted, Ray said the government must ensure the release of the second tranche of posts. “This was promised in 2007 for implementation of OBC reservation. Further, the Choice Based Credit System introduced in 2015 also requires additional teachers and infrastructure for its implementation,” he said.
Though advertisements for vacant posts have been made, not much has been achieved, said most of the DU teachers. “Advertisement has happened for years, but most of the positions have not been filled up. There are 3,600 vacancies, but only 2,200 posts were advertised. In reality, none of the posts were filled up since 2016. In fact, of over 2,500 posts only two got filled up in Daulat Ram College,” added Ray. Apart from funds, the problem of vacant teaching posts needs to be dealt with the help of regularisation.
The ministry had earlier said, “Occurring of vacancies and filling up is a continuous process. The University Grants Commission (UGC) continuously monitors it with universities. However, the onus of filling up the teaching posts lies on central universities which are autonomous bodies created under Acts of Parliament,” Nishank had told Parliament.
On June 4, 2019, the UGC came out with Guidelines for Recruitment of Faculty in Universities, Colleges and Institutions Deemed to be Universities outlining the selection procedure and the time-frame for recruitment. These guidelines have been circulated among all universities.
The UGC has further requested that vacancies in the university as well as colleges affiliated to the university are filled up at the earliest. Further, the HRD ministry has requested all higher educational institutions to upload faculty-related data on National Higher Education Resource Centre (NHERC) portal so that all vacancies are filled up on an urgent basis.
Vacant teachers' posts in schools
Government data also revealed startling numbers of vacant teacher’s positions in secondary and higher secondary education. According to data released on July 1, there are 5,97,906 sanctioned posts in secondary education of which 1,29,366 are vacant. Similarly, in higher secondary education, of the 3,16,865 sanctioned posts, 84,242 are vacant. This totals to 2,13,608 vacancies.
According to a report, the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (school education and literacy) that aims to provide support for both pre-service and in-service teacher training, has got only two per cent of the total allocation in 2018-19.
With this lack of adequate resources there is non-recruitment of professionally qualified teachers or training of teachers in position. Experts believe teachers were never given their due in budgetary commitments.