While conceding that vacancies of teachers in higher educational institutions had become a serious problem, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar told the Lok Sabha Monday that about 20 per cent posts in central universities were vacant. Javadekar, who was replying to questions from Badaruddoza Khan (CPM), KC Venugopal (Congress) and V Elumalai (AIADMK), said: “Yes, vacancies in universities are a serious issue and there are many reasons for it. But let me tell you that in the central universities, which are 41 in number, there are 20 per cent vacancies.”
The minister said: “… As I said, we are making it a dynamic platform where all vacancies will be exhibited on our website. However, there are locational problems; there are subject-knowledge problems; and there is the issue of attitude.” Javadekar told members that whenever he visited any university, he always asked students: “Who wants to be a teacher? Who wants to be a professor?”
“If nobody wants to be a professor, then there will be no teachers,” he said. “We are doing everything to fill up the vacancies… I am very sure that I can report to you about the progress in days to come.” Describing steps taken to address the situation, Javadekar said, “Firstly, the age of superannuation has been increased to 65… Secondly, retired teachers who are experienced — now, there is a good health indicator all over — can be re-employed on contract-basis up to the age of 70.”
He said, “There is a legacy issue where posts were sanctioned. But let me tell you, more teachers at some places is a good thing. There are specific courses where there are less number of students and so, we have that ratio. Otherwise, generally, in all central universities, in science, arts, commerce and master’s degrees and PHDs, we have the teacher-student ratio as prescribed and as is accepted world over.”
Congress whip Venugopal said the vacancies in Delhi University were 62.19 per cent and not 18, as claimed by the minister. He said vacancies were 30.78 per cent in JNU, 62 per cent in Tamil Nadu University and 68 per cent in Karnataka. BJD group leader Bhartruhari Mahtab interjected to say that “in Odisha University, it is 90 per cent”.
Dissatisfied with Javadekar’s response, Venugopal and party colleague Jyotiraditya Scindia insisted that he list the “concrete steps” taken by him to reduce the number of vacancies”. However, the Speaker disallowed them from cross-questioning the minister.