The state government’s decision to pass the Privately Managed Aided Colleges (Non-payment of Grant-in-Aid on Account of Terminal Benefits) Bill, 2016, on the last day of the budget session of the Assembly has not gone down well with the teachers of Punjab and Chandigarh.
Members of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) have condemned the move, calling it an “anti-employee” decision.
According to the passed bill for the privately managed aided colleges, no more grant-in-aid will be provided to the teachers on account of terminal benefits on retirement. At present, the state provides 95 per cent financial aid to 136 colleges across Punjab, and the implementation of the bill has come in the backdrop of certain legal cases that were filed by the managements of few private-aided colleges.
“The Punjab government is still stuck in the position of 1981 and refuses to recognise the changes and developments that have happened in the education sector thereafter. By passing this bill, the state government has once again shown that it has no concern for higher education whatsoever and only indulges in tokenism by announcing the setting of new colleges on the eve of elections,” stated president of PCCTU Jagwant Singh.
PCCTU general secretary Vinay Sophat said: “The government refuses to appoint teachers, pay due salaries to them when in service and now is also denying grant-in-aid for terminal benefits to them on retirement that have been allowed by the courts.”
Criticising the government for not working in the interest of higher education in the state, Sophat added: “The Punjab government is re-defining the concept of the ‘welfare state’ and is doing everything to irreparably harm the interests of the youth and students.”
The state government, however, has stated that it is committed to improving the education sector across the state. In the Punjab budget 2016-17, an increase of Rs 414 crore over the last year’s education budget has been approved. Last year, the budget for education in the state was Rs 8,318 crore, which has now been increased to Rs 8,732 crore.
Members of PCCTU have now called in for a state-level strike on March 28 to protest against the passing of this bill and also to challenge the government to have a dialogue with them on policies in the field of education.
Principals, teachers and managements of several colleges from across the state will also sit in protest to further determine a course of action to safeguard higher education in the state.