Govt to bring DU exams under ESMA; teachers miffed

The Centre has begun a move to bring examination, evaluation, teaching and learning at Delhi University under the Essential Services Maintenance (ESMA) Act

The Centre has begun a move to bring examination, evaluation, teaching and learning at Delhi University under the Essential Services Maintenance (ESMA) Act, drawing a stiff opposition from the teachers.

The move is apparently aimed at putting a curb on the holding of frequent protests by Delhi University teachers, other staff and students on the campus.

For this, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has recently constituted a seven-member working group on the instructions of Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry to suggest changes in the Delhi University Act.

“HRD Ministry, vide its order dated September 12, 2018, has directed to constitute a working group to study the Delhi University Act with the perspective of relevance and uniformity in today's context including bringing exam, teaching, learning, and evaluation under the Act of Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA),” the UGC said, notifying the constitution of the panel in an official order on October 4.

The working group, headed by former UGC member and a noted scientist V S Chauhan, have been mandated to submit their report within 30 days.

The University has been witnessing frequent protests by its teachers and students over a range of decisions taken by the Modi government in last four and a half years.

The teachers of the university boycotted evaluation of the examination papers twice since 2016 with the latest in May-June, pressing for a host of demands ranging from the rollback of the graded autonomy scheme of the UGC, revised rules for university teachers appointment and promotion, department-wise roaster system for implementation of reservation in appointment of faculty members.

This comes months after the UGC asked all central universities to adopt the Central Civil Services (CCS) Conduct Rules, triggering apprehensions among the teachers that it could be used to gag them, as the said rules bar the central government employees from making public statements against the government.

The Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) condemned the move calling it as “a vicious attack on the academic community's intellectual autonomy and the violation of its moral prerogative to nurture free thinking and democratic values.”

The government's effort to explore “possible alterations” in the Delhi University Act 1922 may dissolve the varsity's institutional autonomy and suspend the democratic rights of its academic community, it also said.

It demanded for “immediate dissolution” of the working group and an end to “any further attempts” to impose ESMA or CCS rules on the university teachers.

“To try and bring university teachers under ESMA is a draconian and foolish move as teachers are not mere service providers. Teachers are creators and disseminators of knowledge and informed opinion. The government's move to curb the democratic rights of teachers through ESMA and CCS indicates desperation and nervousness about introducing changes that cannot stand up to academic scrutiny,” DUTA president Rajib Ray said.
 

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Govt to bring DU exams under ESMA; teachers miffed

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