The debate and resentment over appointment to ad-hoc posts in St. Stephen’s College is just the tip of the iceberg, say teachers. What has the college faculty really worried is the judicial cloud surrounding the appointment of permanent teachers, which has consequently led to a spurt in lecturers working on a temporary basis. Last year the college had 16 ad-hoc teachers. This is just a little less than the maximum number allowed by the St. Stephen’s College constitution.
The constitution states: Not more than one-third of the total number of teaching staff shall be on a temporary or contract basis at any time. Teachers fear that the college will, in all probability, cross the one-third mark — that is 20 teachers — during the new academic year and this will not do much good to the standards in teaching.This problem stems from a petition filed by St. Stephen’s College before the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) in 2005. The petition challenged the applicability of University Ordinance in selection of teachers in the College.
Though the NCMEI passed a verdict in favour of St. Stephen’s in 2006, Delhi University challenged this order in the High Court and obtained a stay order on the same. The stalemate has not been broken yet. As long as the case is pending in the High Court the college can appoint permanent teachers as per DU rules. St. Stephen’s, however, has chosen to make do with ad-hoc and guest lecturers for the time being.
Teachers however, say that the stalemate is adversely affecting teaching standards. “We have lost a lot of our good teachers to other institutions — such as Hindu College, Miranda House and Sri Venkateswara College — because our college could not offer them a permanent job. If this continues then the college will not be able to attract good teachers,” added a source. Ad -hoc teachers are normally appointed when permanent teachers are either on leave or have retired. A department can also appoint lecturers on a temporary basis when it feels the work pressure is too much to handle. Normally the tenure for an ad-hoc teacher is four months. The institution last appointed a permanent teacher about five years ago, informed teachers on condition of anonymity.
“We have lecturers working for the college on temporary basis, who are dedicated teachers working here without any of the perks,” said a teacher.