Guidelines necessary to rein in part-time teaching
TEACHERS of higher education institutions are the intellectual assets of a country and should therefore be made the best use of. Besides instilling knowledge and education in different fields to the future generations, their services can and should be used for the greater interest of the country in whatever capacity necessary. It is based on such notions that public university teachers, who constitute the bulk of university-level teachers, are not restrained from taking part-time teaching positions in private universities or various consultancy jobs. And given our shortage of skilled teachers at all levels, the need to stretch our resources is certainly understandable. However, one must not lose sight of the primary task at hand, i.e. teaching public university students. A large section of public university teachers have become ‘signboard’ teachers, so to speak, and use their status as public university teachers to attract lucrative part-time teaching and consultancy jobs, letting their primary duty flounder. The annual report of the University Grants Commission, submitted to president on Sunday, estimates that as much 23 per cent of teachers at public universities are absent from duty largely hampering academic activities in public universities. In fact, while 23 per cent may be completely absent, as those affiliated with public universities will know, a significantly large number also display various degrees of negligence towards their duties, by severely limiting their participation in the academic activities of public universities.
While the remuneration packages of public university teachers may indeed be low, or at least a mismatch with the market value of their qualifications, by continuing to use their stature as a public university teacher to secure private jobs, what they are doing is also at the same time unethical. One must certainly find a middle ground in all of this. Public university teachers must, first and foremost, be dedicated to their respective universities, not just by taking classes, but by also being a part of different academic activities that help improve the academic capabilities of their students and bolster the academic environment of the institutions. The responsibility to see to this also falls upon the authorities of the universities, who are essentially autonomously governed under the 1973 ordinance. If necessary, the ordinance should be reformed to increase the accountability of teachers and put in place limits to their ability to take part in activities outside their primary place of employment.
As the commission chairman alluded to in a report published in New Age on Monday, the rampant part-time employment of public university teachers in private universities is also hampering long-term development of private universities, who must eventually become self-sufficient. Instead, many of them are running almost like coaching centres at present. The situation essentially reflects poorly not just on public university teachers but affects the quality of education at both public and private universities. It also paints poor picture of the state of higher education in the country. Therefore, the relevant authorities must immediately take steps to, as the report pointed out, ‘keep the involvement of teachers in part-time teaching and consultancy jobs at a logical and acceptable level.’
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