ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Employment Terms of Casual Teachers in Higher Education

A Case Study of West Bengal

Contractual and part-time lecturers form a substantial chunk of the workforce in India’s higher education sector. An in-depth study of the employment terms and conditions of various categories of casual teachers in the higher education sector of West Bengal reveals that discrimination of casual teachers is deeply entrenched within the academic environment. This affects the self-esteem and well-being of the teachers and, in turn, leads to a deterioration in the quality of education imparted. Ensuring decent and equitable working conditions for casual and part-time teachers is essential for strengthening the higher education sector, which is necessary for nurturing a well-trained workforce.

The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewer for the careful reading of the manuscript and valuable suggestions, which have enriched the article.

The role of higher education is unquestionable in building a modern economy and an equitable society and the scope of higher education in India has been steadily growing. According to the Twelfth Five Year Plan (Planning Commission 2017), the allocation of public spending on universities and other higher education was ₹ 19,800 crore. The New India NITI Aayog Vision (2031–32) has mentioned a fully literate population as one of its benchmarks (Panagariya 2017). Since the last decade, the higher education sector has been occupying a dominant position in the economic planning process. The government policy in this context aims to attain expansion, excellence and equity; taking higher education initiatives which can enable India to match up to global standards.

While higher education equips people with relevant skill sets in the open labour market, making them upwardly mobile against socio-economic parameters, the same is not reflected in the academic labour market. Today, a significant proportion of highly educated professionals are stuck in a volatile academic ecosystem. They are recruited on ad hoc basis and there is no formal law to govern the terms and conditions of their contractual engagement. The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 primarily covers blue-collar job incumbents, keeping their white-collar counterparts outside its ambit. The growing number of universities (58%) cannot alone fulfil the criteria of expansion, with negative growth in absolute increase in employment. The growth in enrolment rate of students is expected to reach 25.2% by 2017–18 from 17.9% in 2011–12 (Planning Commission 2017). The question is if the targeted growth in enrolment rate is aligned with the number of quality teachers in higher education.

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Updated On : 25th Feb, 2019
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