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How College Teachers Have Become ‘Moveable Assets’ In Rajasthan

An already sick state-run education programme is all set to get sicker still.

Earlier this month, the Rajasthan government issued instructions to its 252 state-run colleges to make provision for sharing faculty and moveable assets like projectors and digital or library equipment. The Congress government in the state faced flak from the Opposition — the Bharatiya Janata Party — after opening nearly 50 new colleges without recruiting adequate staff. The question, though, is whether teaching staff can indeed be shared, like other “movable” assets.

The relationship that teachers build with students needs to be nurtured over time, with regular contact and planned interaction. Such a thing is not possible if teachers are expected to frequently move to different colleges in response to an expressed need.

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The plan proposed by the college education department of the state government is that a nodal college would receive requests for staff or equipment. It would then see how this need could be met for the colleges under its jurisdiction. Commissioner Pradeep Borad of the college education department of Rajasthan reportedly said that provision is being made to recruit new teachers. Until such recruitments are done, the sharing process would be the best way to “channelise resources and provide quality education”.

The state needs 6,500 teachers in its colleges. There is, at present, a shortage of about 2,000 faculty members. The experience of recruitment of teachers for five state universities where Bachelor of Education programmes are conducted, though, offers little ground to hope that Borad’s promise of recruiting new teachers will be fulfilled.

On October 30, 2018, National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) withdrew permission to continue operations to five teacher-education programmes run within state-run institutions at RL Sahariya State University, Kaladera, Jaipur, Baba Bhagwan Das State University, Chimanpura, Jaipur, Sri Govind Singh Gurjar University, Nasirabad, Ajmer, SPS University, Jodhpur, and the State University, Khairvada, Udaipur. The withdrawal came after it was found that these were functioning without the facilities that ought to be available to the students.

Under NCTE norms, institutions must possess 2,500 square metres of “exclusive well-demarcated land for the initial intake of 50 students of which 1,500 square metres shall be built-up area and the remaining for lawns, playfields”. The state government has claimed that it does indeed possess such buildings already — however, this is in institutions that also run regular BA, MA, MCom and BCom programmes, and this space is not exclusively for the use of those taking the education courses. If this space was deducted from total available space in the institute at Nasirabad, Ajmer, for instance, all other courses would then have to run on just 20 square metres of space.

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Despite orders of the high court of Jodhpur, norms under which permission to run BEd programmes are offered were not followed, and the permission to run the course was withdrawn from these five institutions. The state government has now approached the NCTE to review its decision, claiming that recruitment has now occurred in keeping with norms and that the buildings in which these programmes run meet requirements.

In its latest appeal for restoration of permission, the state government has claimed that it has 80 teachers who will cater to these five institutions. However, as Dr Jitendra Sharma, a retired teacher at a BEd college in the state, says: “Teachers teaching other academic disciplines are expected to serve part-time as faculty on the BEd programme. This is not in accordance with norms of the NCTE, which require full-time staff strength of at least 16 for a batch of 200 students.”

The teaching staff that the government has now claimed will be available to run the BEd courses were appointed to teach other subjects, so they are not all full-time staff, as required under the norms. There is also a shortage of librarians, office staff and other technical staff.

What the government proposes, besides moving subject teachers geographically to different colleges, is also to move them across disciplines. An already sick state-run education programme is all set to get sicker still.

Meanwhile, the NCTE has begun an appraisal of all 19,000 institutions it oversees across the country. The aim is to shut down poor-quality institutions that have proliferated and now produce an estimated six times more people with the qualifications to be teachers than required.

“BEd has become a degree for marriage, not teaching,” NCTE chairperson Satbir Bedi told The Hindu recently.

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