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Teachers’ protests against the controversial West Bengal Universities and Colleges Bill 2017

By Newsd
Updated on :
Source: indian364

The controversial West Bengal Universities and Colleges (Administration and Regulation) Bill-2017 is set to be tabled in the Assembly on Thursday, even after the member of various teachers’ organisations on Wednesday protested against the bill. The state government had proposed to place the Bill in the Assembly on December 9, 2016.

The bill will allow only eminent educationists to be nominated as president of college governing bodies. The step is taken to curb the presence of chosen representatives of ruling party in governing bodies. However, following opposition within the TMC and from the Left, the administration had put the Bill on hold and made quite a few changes to it.

In the latest Bill, the government has substituted “eminent educationists” with “persons interested in education”. Notably, teachers of state universities and colleges have alleged that with this, the administration has compromised the independence of the institutions. As per the educationists, the bill would throw open the doors for ruling party members to get designated as governing body presidents.

“Earlier, college governing body and the university statute used to determine who would be a part of the governing body and its tenure. In the proposed Bill, the government will decide these things. The power to dissolve the governing body also rests with it. Moreover, instead of nominating educationists, the government will nominate any person, who is interested in education, as the governing body president. Previously, governing body members used to choose the president,” said Shrutinath Praharaj, general secretary of West Bengal College and University Teachers’ Association (WBCUTA).

In the meantime, in last year’s Bill, college and university staff was included in the category of public servants. This has made them liable for a penalty if they fail to discharge duties, including election duty. These terms has been detached in the new Bill.

“We have got a copy of the Bill… Some clauses have been removed. But the rest of the provisions in the proposed Bill are a severe threat to the autonomy of academic institutions. The state government also proposes to bring a common statute for all universities, which is impractical… There are no provisions in the new Bill to improve the academic environment in colleges and universities,” said Nilanjana Gupta, secretary of Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA).

She also added that a protest meeting would be called on the JU campus on Thursday. “All teachers in our university are united in opposing the state government’s interference in the overall functioning of state universities. The new Bill has been drafted without keeping the interest of universities and colleges in mind,” said Gupta.