IF the universities were to be blamed for exhibiting their incompetence in conducting examinations as per schedule, the government of the state also equally deserved to be censured for not honouring its own word promised to the teachers last year. In this game, innocent students were left to suffer. It is high time that the government and the teachers ponder over this and come to a respectable solution lest they spoil the career and job prospects of millions of students for no fault of theirs.
Showing least regard to the directives of the state government, all the universities in Maharashtra have postponed the annual examinations due next week jeopardizing the future of millions of students. The Rashtrsant Tukdoji Maharaj Nagpur University (RTMNU) was the last to fall in line. On March 21, Vice-Chancellor announced in a press conference the decision to indefinitely defer all 48 examinations beginning from March 23. The move of the university will be affecting over 1.5 lakh students of the eastern Vidarbha region.
The RTMNU was until Thursday hopeful and the Vice-Chancellor was confident of conducting the examinations as per schedule. In fact, the VC was insisting upon conducting the examinations as per schedule. But when other universities in the state deferred their respective examinations due to non-cooperation of the college teachers, the RTMNU had no choice left but to follow suit. As expected the university administration conceded to the pressure of teacher’s organisations and put off the examinations indefinitely.
This decision has naturally invited the wrath of the students and their parents and the teachers were the first to bear the brunt of it. Everyone right from the students and their parents to the government and media too- started blaming the teachers for playing with the future of the students, spoiling their career, holding them at ransom for their demands and so on and so forth. However, no one tried to get to the root cause of this malady.
The government, which is already grappling with the never-before experienced severe drought situation in almost half of the state, found itself cornered by the college teachers. It came out with a GR asking all the Vice-Chancellors to ensure that the examinations were conducted smoothly and advised them to use all the powers at their disposal vide the Maharashtra Universities Act. The cornered government even asked the VCs and college principals not to hesitate to lodge police complaints against the teachers if they created hurdles.
But the universities in Maharashtra did not pay any heed to this GR of the state government and went ahead with the deferment of examinations indefinitely. In this show of one-up-man-ship between the agitating teachers and the government the career and job prospects of millions of students was put under stake.
What are the major issues in this battle between the government and teachers?
According to the President of Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organization (MFUCTO), Shivaji Rao Patil, which has been leading the state-wide boycott of exam work by university and college teachers since February 4, the payment of arrears of the Sixth pay commission and regularizing the services of non-NET/SET qualified teachers were the main issues of this confrontation.
Clarifying their position the MFUCTO president accused the government of going back on the assurance it gave to them in May 2012 on the same issues following the intervention by the Chief Minister. “We had called off our agitation then, but during the last one year the government had not acted on it assurance”, Patil said.
Patil further added “the government had promised the teachers that their 6th Pay Commission arrears will be released on the lines of the similiar benefit already extended to the state government employees, irrespective of when the Central government reimburses the funds. The HRD ministry had asked the government to clear the dues and collect the reimbursement by November, 2012 and still the government did not act on the same.”
“Even in the current offer, the government is talking about releasing the arrears in three phases of Rs 500 crore each. But there is a rider. After releasing the first installment, the government will seek the money from the HRD ministry and the second installment will be released only after the government gets the first reimbursement from the ministry. We are not very comfortable with this provision and will discuss these issues at our executive body meeting,” said Patil.
Now it is up to the state government to act and save the future of millions of students.