We teach children about our guaranteed fundamental human rights, about how standing up for your rights and the rights of others is what makes you a good person.
But as an ad hoc teacher at Delhi University, I feel like a fraud when I talk to students about these things. The exploitative practice of ad hocism — of which I have been a part for the last four years — thrives even as it keeps ethics, human rights and fundamental rights at stake. I work as many hours and as hard — sometimes harder — as a permanent teacher but I’m paid less. The concept of equal pay for equal work is completely ignored.
As an ad hoc teacher, I have no hope for career advancement as I cannot get promotions or individual research grants. My research work will need the support of a permanent teacher irrespective of my qualification or work experience. I am not afforded the luxury of a study leave.
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The biggest casualty in this system is the teaching-learning process. A teacher who cannot learn cannot teach. An ad hoc teacher in Delhi University is employed for a period of four months, after which there is no guarantee that I will be re-employed. I don’t have the time or the mind space to worry about improving myself as a teacher.
If you pick up the timetable of any college, you will realise that the burden of taking classes falls more on ad hocs than on permanent ones. All of these things affect the quality of teaching and, as a result, my students get shortchanged.
But it is not the quality of my work that suffers alone. While the post of an ad hoc teacher gets you less money than a permanent teacher, it is the insecurity that makes us vulnerable.
With a salary of around Rs 62,000 after working for four years, I live a fairly comfortable life, but I never know when I will be without a job. It could be at the end of this term or after 10 years. As a result, any plans for the future are shelved till I know what will happen to me two years down the line.
If I take a home loan and buy a house, how will I pay the monthly installment if I don’t have a job? I have colleagues who are putting off getting married or having children as they have no idea what the future holds.
After working as an ad hoc teacher for a few years, there is not much that you can do. You have already spent your most productive years stuck in this system. Many ad hoc teachers in Delhi University have been teaching for over 10 years and are usually between the ages of 30 and 40. Are you supposed to find a new profession at the age of 40?
The situation the university has created is illegal. A university is not supposed to have more than 10 per cent ad hoc teachers at any given time. If the university cannot hire the teachers immediately, but teachers are needed beyond four months, they must be hired as temporary employees who have more rights as compared to ad hoc teachers.
The life of an ad hoc comes with no job security, high stress, and no opportunities.