India curbs moonlighting teachers

June 7, 2002

India's university and college teachers have been told to spend at least five hours every weekday on campus or face disciplinary action.

They must be available for any help that students might need during this period.

The warning from the University Grants Commission follows widespread complaints of absenteeism among staff, many of whom allegedly use teaching hours to run private coaching classes.

Moonlighting has reached such serious proportions that a lecturer in Calcutta was allegedly beaten up by leftwing student activists after he refused to sign a pledge that he would not give private tuition.

The government of the state of Assam has ordered a blanket ban on university teachers taking private tuitions after it emerged that nearly half the faculty in the state's oldest and most prestigious college, Cotton College, was moonlighting during mandatory teaching hours. The students union has alleged that many private coaching centres in the state capital, Guwahati, are run by Cotton College staff. "We have documentary evidence to back our allegation," Rahul Das, the union's general secretary told the Indian Express . The college has ordered an inquiry.

The UGC is concerned that, despite vastly improved pay scales and service conditions, including guaranteed seniority-based promotion, lecturers are putting in less work. But attempts to monitor their performance have been thwarted by powerful professional associations.

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