COIMBATORE: After the furore over the State government decision to have board exams for students in Class 5 and 8, a minister argued that it was just to get children used to writing exams. Indeed, stress and fear over written exams has affected many a student’s performance yet, the clearing the exam is still considered a requirement at many levels.
Except, in Tamil Nadu, for recruitment of assistant professors. The State conducted written examinations to recruit assistant professors in 1996, 1998 and 2000. The exams were later cancelled, without any clear reason provided. Academics in the State allege that the reason the government did away with written examinations was so that candidate selection could be done as per its whims and fancies.
The issue has cropped up again after the Teachers Recruitment Board (TRB) recently issued notification for appointment of 2,340 assistant professor posts, which include 81 backlog vacancies, in Government Arts and Science Colleges and Colleges of Education. The last recruitment was in 2015. Hundreds of assistant professor aspirants have been eagerly awaiting the initiation of this process for four years.
However, the absence of a written examination as part of the selection process has caused many aspirants to worry if recruitment would be done in a fair manner as relying solely on the educational qualifications, experience and interview could allow for less qualified candidates to get selected. Interestingly, the TRB conducts written examinations for faculty appointment in engineering, polytechnic and law colleges. It is only for arts and science and education colleges that a written examination is not conducted.
Under the current pattern, eligible candidates get up to 15 marks for teaching experience, nine marks for having a PhD, six marks for having an MPhil with SLET/NET/SET, five marks for a postgraduate degree and SLET/NET/SET and 10 marks for their performance in the interview. Former Madras University Vice Chancellor G Thiruvasagam said the system of allotting marks was flawed. Teaching experience of candidates who worked at government colleges, universities and self-financing colleges cannot be treated the same. So, awarding marks for experience without considering where they have taught is also a not good idea, he said. Similarly, awarding the same marks for all PhD-holders was not a good idea, he said.
“The quality of teaching faculty and their standard of research are the main criteria adopted in the global ranking of universities. In the global rankings, 65 per cent of weightage is given for teaching faculty. So, if Indian institutions have to perform well globally we have to give importance to appointing good faculty members,” he said.
“The Higher Education department is taking various initiatives to improve quality of education such as planning to introduce counselling for arts and science admission. As part of such an initiative to ensure quality, a written examination for assistant professor appointment should also be introduced,” he said.
“There are many education qualifications for the post of assistant professor such as NET, SET and PhD. So, awarding different marks for same qualification is unconstitutional and discriminatory.
Under the present marking system, all the candidates who are called for personal interview have 24 out of 24 marks. Finally, only the 10 marks allotted for the interview decide who is selected,”NET SLET Association advisor AR Nagarajan urged the higher education department and TRB to have an written examination, which could be followed by an interview. “Conducting a basic recruitment test will ensure that selection is done in a fair manner,” he said.
The association has submitted a representation to the TRB pressing this demand. The association argued that a written test followed by an interview would provide equal opportunity to all candidates — NET, SET, PhD holders, freshers. The association also urged the TRB to consider granting 60 per cent weightage to written test, 15 per cent to academic records (additional qualification, university rank etc), 15 per cent to experience and 10 per cent to interview and demo class.
The association is not alone in demanding a written test. Tamil Nadu Government College Teachers Association (TNGCTA) is also of the opinion that there should be a written examination for assistant professor recruitment.
‘Basic exam necessary’
Association president T Veeramani said the association had sent a representation to the Higher Education department with this demand.“At a time when Teachers Eligibility Test is being conducted for school teachers, why can’t a written examination be conducted for the teachers at higher educational institutions. They can give weightage to the teaching experience of the candidates. But, a basic written examination is a must,” he said.
“The written examination could also help avoid any legal challenge to the recruitment process, which could stop the entire process. The TRB can prepare a question paper, conduct the examination and complete the recruitment process within the six months’ time given by the University Grants Commission,” he added.
In fact, the TRB had recommended that a written examination be conducted, but this was turned down by the government. A senior official in the TRB said it was a policy decision of the State government.“Last year, the TRB had recommended conducting written examination for the assistant professor posts in arts and science, education colleges. But, the government had rejected it. The TRB will be doing what the user department asks us to do,” the official added.
Higher Education Secretary Mangat Ram Sharma could not be reached for comment.However, Association of University Teachers president N Pasupathy held a different view. “Already TRB has many criteria and fixed marks for paper publication, PhD, experience and personal interview. So, a separate written examination is not required,” he said. However, manipulation in the personal interview process should be conducted in a fair manner, he added and pointed out that UGC and MHRD have mandated both SET/NET and PhD for teachers’ appointment from 2020.
Educational qualification for Asst professor
A Pass in Post-Graduate Degree in the relevant subject with a minimum of 55% marks and a pass in the NET/ SLET/ SET / SLST / CSIR / JRF as per UGC Norms in the relevant subject (or)
A Pass in Post-Graduate Degree in the relevant subject with a minimum of 55% marks and Ph.D in the relevant subject awarded as per UGC norms (Certificate of compliance to be obtained from competent authority of the concerned University – to be submitted at the time of Certificate Verification)
A 5% relaxation will be given to BC/BCM/MBC&DNC/SC/SCA/ST and Differently abled candidates (PWD candidates)
Scheme of Selection (Total 34 marks)
– 15 marks
PhD – 9 marks
MPhil with SLET/NET/SET – 6 marks
PG and SLET/NET/SET
– 5 marks
Interview – 10 marks