Oct 01, 2023
Oct 01, 2023
by Naira Yaqoob
'There is no conceivable law by which man can be forced to work on any terms except those he chooses to set. There is no conceivable law to prevent him from setting them.'
' Ayn Rand
Justice is the basic requirement for any human being and his society. It provides the required motivation to work, to succeed, to prosper, to develop, and to excel. Whenever the right and honor of man is encroached upon, there exists some unrest in the society. No matter how small the affected segment is, the consequences can have a major impact on the entire society. If unheeded, it may lead to a rebellion; and should rightly do so. A society that becomes prone to injustice and corruption simply cannot advance or excel, as backwardness and failure becomes its fate. To quote Benjamin Franklin:
'In some countries, the course of the courts is so tedious, and the expenses so high, that the remedy, justice, is worse than the disease, injustice.'
Hence, the social structure should be such that no one is discouraged to seek and ask for justice. One issue on the rise that is seeking the much-deprived justice is that relating to our educational system and policy. No, the issue is not of the much talked-about unsatisfactory and inefficient examination system that exists in our nation but rather of the educators themselves. It is true that nothing can be achieved without hard work and dedication. But what to say of not getting the deserved due even after following the much-toiled career path? It has been rightly said:
Men for the sake of getting a living, forget to live.
This holds true especially in the present times marked by large-scale unemployment, competition, and dissatisfaction. This is an unfortunate condition where a person can gain nothing and reach nowhere without a struggle. When a man is engrossed in and perturbed by the process of getting employment and is dissatisfied even after getting so, he may live but won't be spirited or living satisfactorily. The difference between the two is to be acknowledged and dealt with.
There is considerable unrest among the education providers -the contractual lecturers, often wrongly referred to as 'adhocs'. The government, on the basis of academic arrangement, has appointed these lecturers in the colleges. Working like 'daily wagers' with the wages or without any hope of getting permanent appointments in the near future, they are being exploited by the government in more than one way. There are a whole lot of these lecturers who have been serving the educational institutions in for years altogether without any job security. Some have lost hope of getting a permanent job despite being in service for even decades! Agreed that patience is a virtue and good things in life often take time. But how long? What is not being considered is the fact that without having a job security and satisfaction, this is going to have a negative impact on the motivational aspect of these jobholders. Until the needs of a human being are satisfied in a proper manner and he is positively motivated, he cannot be expected to produce and perform well.
There is a requirement for the teaching staff in the colleges and schools in huge numbers as is glaringly evident from the number of contractual appointments made in the government colleges and schools. Their number even exceeds that of the permanent lecturers. So, there is no question of overstaffing. Abundant talented and capable human resources are available and utilized by the government but not cared for. The posts are to be filled but are not being advertised by the Public Service Commission. There are no advertisements of the posts in the subjects (like social sciences, languages, and natural sciences) where the candidates are fully qualified, having passed the much-required NET or SLET. Then, there are certain subjects (like English, Management Studies, etc.) where it is extremely difficult to qualify NET as well as SLET, the reason being the diverse field of study. The vested interests of the government are always there, as they are to benefit from it, especially financially. Making them work as, or even more than, the regular/permanent staff, the government benefits from paying them lesser salary and no perks/benefits. Also, no salary is given specifically to them for the summer and winter vacations.
To add to this is the injustice in the form of unrecognition. The contractual lecturers have been slogging for years not only for monetary benefits but also for gaining experience as it has become a much sought after criteria for selection and placements in organizations. But when the PSC decides not to give any weight-age or recognition to the teaching experience of these contractual lecturers (who seem to be unaware of this fact), all effort is in vain. What do these teachers gain except for much deferred salaries? Salaries which they receive after the teaching session is over. And what do they lose? Hope, job security, job satisfaction, and motivation to work hard, enthusiasm for such a noble profession'the points can be countless.
The importance that these issues should have for the government can be gathered from one of the quotes of the former Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee:
'Teachers' views must be given importance in education, planning, and parents and communities should be made more responsive about the schools in the midst.'
This issue can be resolved collectively. A beginning could be made by the formation of an effective union of contractual lecturers and a formal recognition can be sought from the government. It would aid the lecturers in their representation at the higher levels. The new government should take note of it. By resolving this matter and giving it the much-deserved attention, the government can undo what has been done in the past. It can give fresh hope to the despaired employees and citizens. Due recognition has to be given to the worth and work of man. Justice must not only be done but also appear to be done. This should not only mark a new chapter in politics but also in the field of education and sociology. The power lies with the new government. They should use it wisely. With humility.
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