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Performance not final word for promotions

Teacher performance will be rated for promotions, but will not be decisive, the UGC has decided; the move will please teacher unions – but is a step back from promise of quality. Charu Sudan Kasturi reports.

delhi Updated: May 22, 2013 01:53 IST
Charu Sudan Kasturi
Charu Sudan Kasturi
Hindustan Times

India’s college teachers will be graded on their performance in deciding on promotions, but only to screen out the worst, the University Grants Commission has decided in a desperate attempt to juggle promises of faculty quality with populism in an election year.

Boxed in by competing demands from teacher unions and independent academicians, the UGC on May 10 decided to retain a long-promised Academic Performance Index (API) to rate teachers for promotions – but only for a “screening purpose.”

In effect, this means that India’s 10 lakh college and university teachers will only need a minimum API score to be eligible for promotions. Once they manage that eligibility, their API score will have no bearing on “expert assessment” of candidates in either direct recruitment or in promotions, the country’s apex higher education regulator has decided, after hectic consultations with the human resource development ministry.

“It was a tough balancing act, but we believe the regulations we’ve finalized will address concerns of teachers and unions, without giving up on our promise to inject accountability and transparency,” a senior government official said, requesting anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

While announcing the 6th Pay Commission salary hikes for college faculty in 2009, the UGC had also declared that it would be using the API to rate teachers for promotions. The 2009 pay raise was aimed at making teaching a lucrative profession again after decades of losing bright young academics to industry and to foreign universities, and the API was an attempt to also inject objectivity and transparency in criteria used to promote teachers. The UGC regulations for teacher appointments and promotions in 2010 did not restrict the role of the API to only that of a screening mechanism.

But the move – supported by many independent academicians – was firmly resisted from the beginning by teacher unions that argued the API lacked flexibility and would in fact discriminate against teachers from weaker backgrounds. The complex new ratings system was also holding up appointments, some universities complained.

Faced with unceasing opposition, the UGC decided this January to scrap the API altogether, a move reported first by HT. But after the HRD ministry’s intervention, the commission set up an expert panel to reconsider the performance rating system.

First Published: May 22, 2013 01:51 IST