While the government has now taken a decision on holding exams for undergraduate and postgraduate students in September, guest lecturers employed in State colleges on contract basis are yet to get salaries for several months even as their future remains uncertain.
The State government that employs them on contract has not released salaries to over 14,000 guest lecturers in colleges and around 2,000 guest lecturers in the 25 State-run universities. Guest lecturers account for 69% of the total number of teachers in colleges and nearly 50% in universities.
While the Commissionerate of Collegiate Education releases the salary of colleges, the various universities release the salaries of the guest faculty in universities. As per their contract, they are to be paid for 10 months in a year. Due to the differences in the academic calendars of universities, the ‘salaried holiday’ for lecturers in some districts lies in April and May while in some others it is June and July. However, since classes were suspended indefinitely from March 23, they have not been receiving a salary beyond that date.
A PG teacher gets a consolidated salary of ₹11,000 while a teacher with a PhD gets ₹13,000 per month. “Most of us have got our salaries only for six to seven months. It is very difficult to sustain ourselves with such a reduced income,” said Shivamoggi Somashekar, president, Coordination Committee of Guest Lecturers in Government Colleges.
M.C. Narahari, general secretary of the committee, feels betrayed that the Chief Minister’s relief package did not cover guest lecturers. The government released food packets and ₹5,000 subsistence allowance to all kinds of workers like weavers, barbers and autorickshaw drivers. But we were left out. The government thinks that our condition is better than theirs. But that is not true. A majority of guest lecturers are struggling to feed their families,” he said. “Some are now working as security guards and suppliers in hotels. Some others have gone to their villages to work as MNREGA labourers,” he said.
Guest lecturers across the State organised a dharna on June 19, seeking release of salary for the lockdown period and regularisation of their services. “We have demanded regularisation of our services based on experience, and other criteria like attending seminars, examination duty, contributing to journals, research work, book publications and age. We are opposed to the system of recruitment examination as it does not take teaching experience into account,” Dr. Somashekar said. He points out to States like Delhi, Assam, Haryana and MP that have regularised nearly 40,000 guest lecturers each.
An officer of the rank of director in the Department of Collegiate Education, told The Hindu on condition of anonymity that legal problems had stopped the payment of salaries.
“The contract of employment stated that the teachers be paid for their period of working. Since the lockdown cannot be included in the period of work, we can not release their salaries. But an exception can be made if the State government takes a decision to that effect,” he said.
The committee members say they are even open to the idea of shifting guest lecturers to vacant positions of non-teaching staff in the Higher Education Department. There are 7,000 non-teaching positions vacant in the department.