DU ad hoc teachers worried about renewal of contracts amid Covid pandemic
The rather permanent problem of Delhi University’s temporary teachers – guest and ad-hoc – has surfaced again amid the Covid-19 pandemic. With first-year admissions delayed by at least two months, teachers are now worried about the upcoming academic session, their role in it and renewal of their contracts.
Himanshu Singh, an ad-hoc teacher at DU’s Satyawati College, said, “The revised academic session states that classes will begin on August 10 for first, third, and fifth semester students. But admission for the first year was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. This has substantially reduced the workload. We are worried that some colleges may use this as an excuse to not renew our appointment.”
Singh said while some principals said they would renew the appointments of their ad-hoc teachers, others have “created confusion” over how they will execute this.
Ad-hoc teachers number around 4,500 and constitute more than 50% of the university’s teaching strength of around 10,000 and participate in other college activities. Their teaching hours are around 16 hours per week.
While ad-hoc teachers are appointed for four months, after which the contract may be renewed, guest teachers (roughly 1,700) are paid on a lecture basis and have around five to eight teaching hours per week. The rest are permanent teachers.
Abhishek Parashar, an ad-hoc teacher at Delhi University, said the uncertainty of jobs during a health crisis has been unnerving. “The university must intervene and order colleges to redistribute work but there has been no directive so far. Permanent teachers have stepped up and said they would take the workload for the first year and we could look at continuing students. These are only quick-fixes but we need a permanent appointment, which have not been done despite directives.”
Asit Kumar, a guest teacher of DU who resides in Burari with his family, said he has to rely upon his brother to run his family. “While my college has cleared my payment till April, I am yet to receive remuneration for classes conducted at non-collegiate courses of the varsity, which amounts to over Rs 70,000. I have already used up all my savings during the lockdown and have to rely on the money my brother sends me from our village with little clarity on when I will get my pay. There is no clarity over our appointments and due to the Covid-19 crisis, looking for other jobs is also difficult.”
Rajesh Jha, DU’s executive council member, said, “We found out that fewer number of approvals were sent out for ad-hoc teachers than usual. Thousands of these teachers have been mentoring, counselling and providing academic guidance throughout the Covid-19 period. They don’t have any health benefits and are dependent on salary. We have written to university officials, asking them to ensure that their appointments are not hampered.”
In order to implement the constitutionally mandated Economically Weaker Section reservation, Jha said there have been cases of ad-hoc teachers being removed as the posts are going to the EWS category, requiring fresh appointments. “These teachers should not be sacrificed overnight during such an uncertain time,” Jha said.
Earlier this month, the DU Teachers’ Association also wrote to vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi, asking that services of all ad-hoc teachers must be renewed and vacation salaries must be disbursed.
“The appointment of guest faculty required for the teaching of courses for continuing students must be done on an immediate basis to prevent loss of teaching time,” the association said in its letter. The association also said guest faculty engaged in non-collegiate and regular courses have gone without pay and their remuneration must be released immediately.
Balaram Pani, the university’s dean of colleges, said, “The academic session has not started yet. Beginning August 10, classes will be conducted online. How can teachers get the letter [of renewal] before the session even begins?” He said DU’s School of Open Learning had cleared all bills for guest teachers and only those for which applications had not been moved were pending.