DU probes teacher absenteeism to maintain consistency sparking backlash

Delhi University Teachers Association will welcome the move if it targets to strengthen the system and change the terms of reference

Ayushi Gupta | Posted February 12, 2024 12:00 PM

DU probes teacher absenteeism to maintain consistency sparking backlash

The University of Delhi (DU) recently released a circular regarding the formation of a probe panel to investigate the issue of teacher absenteeism. The university is expecting the panel report by February 25, 2024. The teachers' association at the university has refused to accept the measures and has called it "unnecessary" and "absurd".

Criticising the circular, AK Bhagi, president, Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) stated that the association is open to amendments and changes but there was a better way to address the same, rather than making any vague and baseless allegations about teachers. "The University of Delhi has maintained its excellence over the years with the help of continuous involvement of teachers in teaching and research and not because of the administration alone. The allegations that have been put up by the university are not acceptable and are absurd. DU should have raised the concern in the first discussion with the Academic Council of University of Delhi.” 

Alleging that the university administration has overstepped boundaries, Rakesh Pandey, former president, National Democratic Teachers Front (NDTF) says, “The probe on teacher absenteeism is completely unnecessary, it is the role of the college principal to supervise the teaching-learning process. The interference of the university’s administration into a college-level issue is a compromise of the institutions’ sovereignty.” 

“Teachers also spend their time and energy in arranging extracurricular and cocurricular activities as the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 envisions to make education more well-rounded. And sometimes, teachers are assigned to visit certain events or political programmes leaving no choice but to miss out on their timetable,” Pandey adds. 

Meanwhile, the university’s official circular stated, “The University of Delhi has constituted a committee to develop a mechanism addressing the concern that classes are not being conducted by teachers.” Meanwhile, principals of Daulat Ram College, Shyam Lal College, Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, and Shaheed Bhagat Singh College (Evening) and more will be the panel members of the probe committee. 

Talking to Education Times, Vikas Gupta, registrar, DU, says there has been no reported issue of teacher absenteeism so far, rather the vision behind the panel formation is only to eliminate academic loss to the students. “Principals from various colleges have been selected as the members of the panel to formulate certain guidelines that can ensure regularity while adjusting the classes even during the time of any event or any other engagement of the teachers at the college campuses.” 

Referring to the constant backlash from the teacher’s association that the varsity administration has been receiving ever since the circular was released, Gupta says, “Teachers have been opposing as they are interpreting the move as a question on their integrity. DU is a 100-year-old university, and the classes have been conducted regularly. With this probe report, the administration is focusing on maintaining consistency of the academic classes.” 

Bhagi says, “The varsity plans to introduce a software for marking the attendance of teachers and students. This might destroy students' creativity and innovation as the learning does not always happen inside the classrooms.”  

Further, Bhagi says, “DUTA will soon hold a meeting with the administration and will at least ensure that the terms of reference are changed. The association is also planning to get a mandate from the Academic Council of DU, if at all monitoring of teacher absenteeism is required to strengthen the system.”