August 28, 2021 11:11:15 am
Post-graduates from top technical institutes across the country who were recruited as faculty for the Ministry of Education’s Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP) are currently protesting in the capital, demanding absorption in their project institutes.
TEQIP, initiated with the World Bank, is a project aimed at improving the quality of technical education especially in low income states and Special Category states by providing resources and highly qualified faculty members to existing engineering colleges in these states. Under the ongoing phase of the project, those protesting had been engaged as assistant professors in the institutes concerned since January 2018, and the project is set to end on September 30. These faculty members are now pointing to a clause in the project implementation plan which stated that the funding under the project “will be based on an understanding with state governments that well-performing faculty hired using project funds will be retained post project, all else unchanged”. They began their protest outside Shastri Bhavan demanding absorption on Wednesday.
In response to a question in the Lok Sabha last month on the employment of people involved in the project beyond its closure, Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan had replied, “Ministry of Education has written to the Chief Secretaries of Focus States requesting to plan for continuation of activities undertaken during TEQIP-III, for maintaining the quality of education.”
However, an official in the Madhya Pradesh technical education department stated there are no administrative posts available under which they can be absorbed. The project implementation unit of Chhattisgarh has written to the institutes concerned that the faculty can only continue as guest faculty on an hourly basis, with a maximum pay of Rs. 21,000 per month, which TEQIP faculty members say is not comparable to the Rs. 70,000 per month they were earning under the project.
“I had seen this project as the best opportunity to serve the nation by working in rural state engineering colleges where the education level is very poor, with the idea that we will be able to improve the situation of technical education there. We understand that this is a project with a limited period, but there were clauses that clearly mentioned that we will be absorbed after this. But now, there doesn’t seem to be any plan to do so. The question of working as guest faculty on that level of pay is out of the question for people without qualifications,” said Tejas Bele, who had done his M.Tech. from IIT Bombay and has been teaching at Ujjain Engineering College.
“After my M.Tech. I had worked at a London-based MNC but I was interested in academia and this was a great project so I had applied for it. But these 3.5 years of academic experience will not be counted in industries and we can’t seek work there. We want to be retained in the institutes where we have invested so much time,” said Anand Chaturvedi, who studied at IIT Kharagpur and has been working at Kamala Nehru Institute of Technology, Sultanpur.
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