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UGC move to designate ASCs as Human Resource Development Centres upsets teachers

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The Hindu | | Anuradha Raman |

The move impacts career profiles of professors, readers and lecturers.

What’s in a designation? Well everything, if you are a teacher, teaching teachers. Till January 20, 2015, the nomenclature Professor, Reader and Lecturer was used for teachers at the 66 Academic Staff Colleges (ASCs) funded by the University Grants Commission. Then the nomenclature changed with an announcement on the UGC website this year. ASCs were designated as Human Resource Development Centres and the staff re-designated as Director, Deputy Director (Physical Education) and Assistant Director (Physical Education). The non-academic designations impact the career profiles of over 100 professors, readers and lecturers working in the Academic Staff Colleges (ASCs) and raise the spectre of agenda-driven curriculum in campuses.

“What is the connect between physical education and academics, unless the Government wants to run institutions to the ground,” asks a professor who spoke on condition of anonymity. These colleges were started more than 20 years ago, and function as autonomous units within universities with the objective of teaching teachers to fine-tune their skills at the university/college level. Often, the teaching colleges have been set up to score a political point. For instance, if the former HRD Minister from the UPA, Pallam Raju, announced the setting up of a college in Kakinada, his constituency, Varanasi, which happens to be the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too boasts of one such centre in the Benaras Hindu University.

Yoga adds to confusion

The inclusion of physical education in their new designations has taken the academic staff by surprise as “it makes little sense.” Physical education is normally correlated with sports and physical activities. Adding to the confusion, was the introduction of yoga this summer by the Director of the Staff College located in the campus of the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Making a connect between redesignation and physical education and yoga, many teachers asserted on condition of anonymity, that this was an attempt to introduce subjects and disciplines as desired by the new dispensation. In the absence of clarity, Jayanti Roy, Deputy Director in the Staff College in Punjab University, says “my job profile remains the same. Then, why the redesignation. It makes no sense.” There was no response to repeated requests for clarification from the UGC. The UGC announcement has sparked a huge unrest among teachers in the staff colleges who fear their careers are at stake. The staff of the UGC-ASC, for the last 20 years, have been appointed as Readers and Lecturers and promoted accordingly. Ms. Roy adds: “There is no logical reason for designation change. Since the job profile of the lecturers, readers, professors appointed in the Human Resource Development Centres (HRDCs) formerly known as Academic Staff Colleges (ASCs) has not changed, the basis of the decision to change the designation is totally unfathomable. This was not clarified by the UGC even in its response to an RTI application.”

Academic work

As per the UGC direction, the staff colleges are teaching units where teachers are trained by their seniors or contemporaries to fine-tune their teaching skills. Much of it is academic work that involves planning and designing, teaching, research, evaluation, monitoring and execution of academic training programmes — without which faculty development cannot take place. Only teachers can teach/mentor teachers and therefore the designations of these posts, many teachers insist, should remain academic only. The website proclaims the objective of ASC as mainly for the upgradation of knowledge and skills of college and university teachers. It declares: “drawing upon the faculty of JNU as well as other prestigious institutions in and around Delhi, the HRDC, and JNU brings to its participants the cream of Indian scholarship.” – Courtesy


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