Assistant professors from the universities staged a protest at Arts College on the Osmania University campus to protest against the state government, denying them regularisation. (DC Image/file photo)
Hyderabad: The conclusion of the term of yet another government without resolving their issues has left 1,445 university-level contract teaching staff, who have worked for nearly 30 years, mired in uncertainty.
The teachers, from 12 universities in the state, went on a strike for 25 days demanding regularisation of their jobs but have returned to the classrooms. Political parties seem to be steering clear of them in their poll manifestos.
B. Rajesh Khanna, a faculty member of JNTU-Hyderabad and convener of Telangana All Universities Contract Teachers Association (T-AUCTA), said: "We know that our recruitment will also face legal problems but the government has to find a way out."
Contract teachers say even many of them have the necessary qualifications — NET, SET and PhD, as per UGC, AICTE and PCI (Pharmacy Council of India) norms.
A major problem, contract teachers believe, working against them is the salary burden. As per UGC scales, pay revision happens once every 10 years and the salary burden is shared by the Centre and the state in a 50:50 ratio for the first five years, after which the state government would pay the salaries.
"We are asking the government seek a one-time exemption from the UGC, citing lack of recruitment for 13 years," Khanna said.
He said that BRS MLC Palla Rajeshwar Reddy and B. Vinod Kumar, TS Planning Commission vice-chairman, had told them that the Chief Minister had been apprised of the problem.
Asked about the issue, Vinod Kumar said: "A university is different from government departments. The norms were not followed while recruiting them. All these contract staff were not given permanent jobs from the time of the Chandrababu Naidu government nearly 30 years ago and are on the verge of retirement now. We are willing to accommodate them but laws are a hurdle."
Asked what the BRS government had done for nine years, he said, "We weighed different options and solved problems one by one."
In technical universities, of the 1,445 teachers, 545 are employed in self-financed courses while the rest are working in sanctioned posts.
Khanna said that the 100-point roster and rule of reservation were followed in the technical universities while recruiting the staff on contract. "We also satisfy the unit-wise roster of a college or group of colleges at a place as a unit for implementation of reservations, which the Centre brought in 2018," he said. The issue was with conventional universities like Osmania, Telangana and Palamuru where the reservation norm was not observed.
Even before Telangana got statehood, the problem of the contract lecturers was pending for long.
"The teaching post in a university is open to anyone across the country, which is why employees who originally hail from AP were not sent back from the universities, unlike other departments, post bifurcation," said Khanna.
"The delay in decision making to even filing counters to legal challenges like the unit-wise roster in the Supreme Court has resulted in this condition," Khanna said.
"The other requirement we don't satisfy is the lack of the UGC nominee while conducting our recruitment. This, the state government says, will be cited to cancel our recruitment, as candidates from outside the state can approach the courts," Khanna said.
He said that the BRS government's attempt to constitute a common recruitment board in state universities by holding exams through TSPSC added to the confusion. Eyebrows were raised over bringing universities, which are autonomous bodies, into the government recruitment process.