Rotten Teacher Award - Without any Malice -

Yenning *

Let's talk about higher education (government college education) in Manipur. A blame game goes on. Teachers blame the Government (for apathy) and the students (irregularity and indiscipline). Government blames the teachers (for non-accountability). Students blame the teachers and the government (for obvious reasons). Let's take a pot-shot at two: government apathy and teacher's accountability, then proceed to devise a form of award to take to task accountability of the teachers.

Govt Attitude towards Higher Education

Attitude of the Manipur Government towards higher education in general and the college teachers in particular is expressed in many ways. Take for instance, infrastructure development and manpower. Reports by the student associations reveal that majority of the colleges lack infrastructure facilities such as toilet and drainage system. In terms of manpower, none of the government colleges have a regular principal. Gardener and sweeper are decorative pieces in the eyes of the government, and thus dispensable. Over and above, at present more than 25 percent of the required numbers of Government College teachers are lying vacant.

Latest example of government apathy towards higher education is expressed in the way a cabinet decision was taken to shift Modern College, so as to expand the area of Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Health & Medical Sciences, without remembering the history and legacy of the college. Earlier attempt included converting half of the college campus of Maharaja Bodhchandra College into a vocational training institute of State Council of Educational Research and Training.

Under rationalization of government colleges, numerous colleges were either to be merged or abolished on the grounds of lack of adequate number of students and non-performance. Fortunately, once Jarnail Singh was transferred, things returned to normalcy.

Attitude towards the college teachers is best expressed in the way the legitimate demand for pay hike under 6th Pay Commission, UGC norms, was handled. It took more than two and half years to finally issue a screwed up "Order" (No. 7(7)/3/2009-HE(Misc)Pt.(1), dated 3rd June, 2011 based on Cabinet decisions taken on March 2 and June 2, 2011) to meet the teachers' demand. The order is screwed up in four ways. First, nomenclature of teaching posts, such as Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor as per UGC guidelines, is not mentioned anywhere in the order.

Secondly, Academic Grade Pay (AGP) has been bifurcated into Grade Pay and Academic Allowances, which is totally against UGC norms. UGC recommend academic allowances as a separate component of salary, ranging from Rs. 1200 to 1500 based on designations, in order to meet the expenses for internet rentals, computer peripherals and for buying books and journals, etc.

Clubbing of the Academic Allowances component as a part of AGP is denial of the same. Moreover, the bifurcation means that Grade II Officers (Manipur Civil Services) at entry level enjoy higher grade pay than entry level lecturers, although the latter belongs to Grade I Officers under Group A. The bifurcation and subsequent downgrading of grade pay for the college teachers at the entry level has a direct bearing on travel allowances (TA) and others.

For example, UGC recommendation states, "TA rules admissible to central Government employees wherein all those with grade pay of Rs. 5400 and above have been allowed air travel may also be extended to teachers as well. Teachers may also be allowed TA/DA as admissible from time to time to Central / State Government employees, as the case may be." However, under conditions of the present "Order", lecturers, who have been awarded a grade pay of Rs. 5200/- as a result of the bifurcation of the AGP cannot avail travel by air.

Third, while rest of State Government employees started enjoying the revised pay structure since April 2010, in the case of the Government college teachers, effective date is from November 2010. This reveals the discriminatory attitude shown towards this category of State employees.

Finally, the way how the Government has denied the retired college teachers (retired on or before October 31, 2010) the benefits of the revised pay structure will not go down well in the history of Manipur. Good governance is about caring for the aged and the old. And welfare responsibility is key word of development and civilization. Perhaps, the above combined factors can act as one of the anti-incumbency factors in the upcoming Assembly Elections.

Thus, the sorry state of college education is largely on account the Government apathy. There is no mechanism to check accountability of the teachers as there is no regular Director in the Department of University & Higher Education. Moreover, an In-Charge-Principal, cannot extract accountability from the teachers; both are handicapped by limitations in terms of exercise of powers. Moreover, the Government does not provide a platform to the teachers to seek inputs on policy formulation and others, beyond the task of election and census duties.

Teachers Accountability & Ethics

During the heydays of the agitation for salary hike, when the idea of under-table means was mooted to get their share of salaries, many teachers objected on the grounds morality and ethics: "Teachers cannot be corrupted. We need to set an example." Fabulous! Yenning must admit for taking the ethical line. However, we suggest you to pay a random visit to any of Government Colleges. Teacher attendance will surely surprise you. One would be lucky enough to encounter a class in motion. In the light of new revised pay structure, many teachers expressed "shame" in receiving the new package.

One sheepishly admitted, "We've stopped reading even the newspaper since the day we're recruited as Government college teachers. Forget about reading books for teaching the students!" Then, take a look at this phenomenon. As the season of college admission has started, the same teachers who have refused to oil the palms of the bureaucrats and ministers on ethical lines are busy collecting money to pay admission fees of students.

The logic is to have a total strength of 300 and above students, so that the college can be eligible for assessment and accreditation by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), an Autonomous Institution of the University Grants Commission. However, this applies to those colleges yet to be accredited by NAAC. The logic of NAAC accreditation is not about improving the quality of the concerned college but eye at the numerous financial assistances the college would receive in return.

Given this sordid picture of affairs, one pertinent itch that pricks our minds is if Federation of College Teachers Association, Manipur, that spearheaded the demand for salary revision would continue to exist and walk an academic line in the sense of improving quality of college and extract accountability from member teachers or will it be dissolved? FECTAM, in our opinion, can continue to exist and fight for the cause of education, for example, why not extend solidarity to the cause of Modern college.

Recently, the Democratic Students' Alliance of Manipur (DESAM), in the light of the result of the first semester examination result of BA I Year, accused the teaching staff members as one of the factors for the decline in standard of college education. The contention is that most teachers report late for duty compared to calling it quit for the day well ahead of the prescribed duty hours.

Involvement of the teaching staff in contract and supply work rather than concentrate on their assigned task is also cited as another factor for compromising the career of the students (Sangai Express, Imphal, May 25, 2011). Well, indeed, students have started following footsteps of the teachers. To substantiate DESAM, Yenning can also go on record that there teachers in specific colleges, who have drawn their regular salaries even without taking a single class or attending the college even for a single day in an annual academic year (teachers on deputation, study leave, infirmed and sick are excluded).

Rotten Teacher Award

It is time student bodies go beyond rhetoric. As much as their revelations and assessments are to be appreciated, Yenning strongly suggests for translation into action. The agitation launched by the Students' Union of Pettigrew College since May 25, 2011 is a revealing one but it needs to be extended to the general teachers, too, on their performance. However, we do not advocate taking the law into own hands but suggest working along with the changed professional demands imposed upon the teachers by the UGC. Teacher assessment by students is a compulsory part of the UGC recommendations.

For example, UGC recommends evaluation of teachers' performance and academic accountability on multi-source evaluation such as self assessment, assessment by students who have been taught a course by the teacher and assessment by the academic head/s. Multiple parameters like regularity in class room teaching, holding tutorials, availability to students for consultation, participating in faculty meetings, guiding and carrying out research, and participating in other academic activities like seminars, etc.

The assessment should be made once a year and should be made available to the teacher concerned. The assessment should be placed before the selection committee at the time of the teacher's promotion.

Based on the above broad guidelines, accreditation for NAAC carries compulsory sections on feedback from Students on courses taught in the colleges and on teachers using a 4 -point scale such as very good (4.00), good (3.00), satisfactory (1.502.00) and unsatisfactory (0.001.50). Sample attributes taken into account for courses are as follows:

  • Depth of the course content including project work if any
  • Extent of coverage of course
  • Applicability/relevance to real life situations
  • Learning value (in terms of knowledge, concepts, manual skills, analytical abilities and broadening perspectives)
  • Clarity and relevance of textual reading material
  • Relevance of additional source material (Library)
  • Extent of effort required by students
In the case of the feedback on teachers, following are the sample parameters:
  • Knowledge base of the teacher (as perceived by the student)
  • Communication skills (in terms of articulation and comprehensibility)
  • Sincerity / Commitment of the teacher
  • Interest generated by the teacher
  • Ability to integrate course material with environment/other issues, to provide a broader perspective
  • Ability to integrate content with other courses
  • Accessibility of the teacher in and out of the class (includes availability of the teacher to motivate further study and discussion outside class)
  • Ability to design quizzes/Tests/assignments/examinations and projects to evaluate students understanding of the course
  • Provision of sufficient time for feedback
Finally there is a section on students' overall evaluation of the programme and teaching (multiple set questionnaire), which has to be filled only after the course results are declared, which again is more or less a combination of the above parameters. In short, teachers need your assessment for promotion. But as a student, you know best about your teachers.

The attendance record lying in the office of the Principal cannot be relied upon. But you know best. Then, why not assess your teachers, go a step ahead and institute an award, for example, "Rotten Teacher of the Year" like the "Rotten Tomato Award for worst Hollywood movie released in a year. Present the same to a teacher or more on an appropriate occasion.

Yes, without any malice. Education is our right.

* Yenning , a regular columnist for The Sangai Express wrote this article for Sangai Express . The writer can be reached at yenning05(at)rocketmail(dot)com or visit
This article was webcasted on June 12, 2011.

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