New Delhi, Apr 20 (UNI) Warning that 'good' universities and colleges are ''irreversibly sliding'' into ''mediocrity'' without regular teachers-- and could be derecognised-- the Centre has asked States and Union Territories to expeditiously fill vacancies-- preferably before the July-August academic session.
The word of caution and advice has gone out from Human Resource Development Ministry Secretary Sudeep Banerjee in a letter to State Chief Secretaries and UT Administrators.
There was no immediate estimate of exactly how many sanctioned posts remain vacant and in which universities.
But as University Grants Commission Chairman Sukhadeo Thorat told UNI, the number is substantive enough to make it ''an issue.'' India has some 225 state universities and eighteen central universities, which between them affiliate close to 18,000 colleges.
As Mr Banerjee noted in his letter, in the absence of regular teachers, contract teachers and low paid and ad-hoc teachers step in to perform the role of teachers in colleges and universities, which further impacts quality adversely.
Critics say the real victims in all of this are students who receive substandard education-- something they can do little about.
Voicing concern over the problem, Mr Banerjee said the issue ''has disturbed'' academics all over the country and also upset the UGC and the HRD Ministry.
He pointed out that ''One extreme way of tackling this problem would be to stop further assistance to these universities and colleges which do not have regular teachers as per the norms.
''An even more drastic step would be that of derecognising such institutions.'' Mr Banerjee called it ''an avoidable situation both because it would unnecessarily inconvenience the students and cause dislocation of their studies.'' The letter suggested re-employing superannuated teachers up to the age of 65 years as a short term option or as an independent scheme to arrest the problem.
Mr Banerjee said the Ministry ''intends'' to convene a meeting of the Secretaries of State Governments in-charge of Higher Education to review the progress regarding this in the next few weeks.
UNI MJ NK HT1745