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A cash crunch and supply shortage has altered retirement plans for college teachers, who may be allowed to work for five more years after they turn 60.
The West Bengal state higher education department is working on a proposal to revise the retirement age to reduce the number of vacancies that will crop up in colleges over the next few years. An earlier plan was shot down by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee two months ago. With the government deep in debt, the higher education department can’t fill up more than 2,000 vacancies in 500 government and government-aided colleges. The problem will be compounded once teachers who are, or will turn, 60 retire. The government may get some breathing space if the retirement age is raised to 65. It will save the money it would otherwise have to shell out to teachers as statutory benefits and also help the authorities make provisions for recruitment. Asim Dasgupta, finance minister in the Left regime, had taken this route to restrict non-Plan expenditure by pushing the retirement age of state government employees from 58 to 60 years. The other constraint is on the supply side. The College Service Commission has not been able to provide placements from panels since last year. "There is an acute shortage of teachers at all levels," said Siddhartha Majumdar, newly appointed chairman of the College Service Commission. "Students don’t get the number of teachers in colleges they deserve. If the government decides to revise the retirement age, it will help restrict the shortage. No recruitment has been made in the colleges since 2010, except a few at the directive of the court." Part-time teachers are not the solution because it’s a lose-lose situation. "The teacher-student ratio in colleges is far from optimal. Some colleges are engaging part-time teachers. But the same quality can’t be expected from them. Besides, colleges must pay these teachers from their own resources. The pay is far below the usual," Majumdar said. Considering the constraints, the higher education department is sending the proposal to the CM again. "It is becoming extremely difficult for colleges to run classes with such acute staff shortage," an education department official said.
Courtesy: Times of India
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