On a call given by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers' Union (PCCTU), the teachers working in the aided colleges throughout Punjab and Chandigarh observed the Teachers' Day as 'Black Day' to protest against the "neglect of higher education by the state government and its failure to meet the long pending demands of the teaching and non-teaching staff working in these colleges".
The teachers wore black badges and organised dharnas in various aided institutions in Punjab and Chandigarh on Friday. They struck work for an hour to participate in the protests.
A district-level protest rally was organised at the DAV College,Amritsar wherein teachers from all the colleges of Amritsar district participated.
Addressing the rally, district president of PCCTU, Prof Malkiat Singh, and its secretary, Prof Vikas Bhardwaj, said that it was the strength of PCCTU that despite the inclement weather, a large number of teachers had come to attend the rally. They warned that the agitation would be intensified if the government was not able to redress their grievances by September 15.
PCCTU state general secretary, Prof HS Walia, said that their demands include immediate release of the pending quarterly grants meant for salaries, lifting ban on recruitments imposed in 2005, streamlining norms regarding Academic Performance Index (API) score for promotion, inclusion of teachers working against un-aided posts under grant-in-aid scheme and relaxation from refresher courses as per UGC guidelines.
The other demands include implementation of pension and gratuity scheme, enhancement of retirement age from 60 to 65 years, implementation of central government and UGC notification regarding revised pay scales in toto.
Walia said that the government funding of higher education is essential for the inclusive growth of the state. It was not the shortage of resources but short-sighted policy of the government which has resulted in the collapse of higher education system in the state, he added.
He said that it was a good gesture on the part of the Prime Minister to address the students but at the same time, he should have also addressed the problems of teachers, particularly in a state like Punjab where the government does not seem to bother about higher education.