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Attendance for teachers

The Delhi University’s affidavit to the Delhi High Court assuring the latter of speeding up the process of introducing biometric attendance for teachers and staff of its colleges and the university has raised a few issues.

First, it is to be noted that the affidavit was submitted in answer to a PIL filed by an organisation called Indian Council of Legal Aid and Advice, which seems to have little bearing upon the life and learning of students in DU. It must be questioned if such an organisation is within its rights to question the teaching community’s credibility or responsibility towards the profession. If the teaching community can be entrusted with the critically important job of educating the nation, they can also be asked to ensure that they create their own system of accountablity.  Second, there should some myth busting about the common assumption that teachers do not put in labour in proportion to their pay, especially after the sixth pay commission.  If that be the index of accountability, most CEOs in the world would have difficulty showing their face.

Also, if teacher are being paid, that is because they have earned it through hard work, qualification and publication. And the payment is entirely in parity with the purchase index, inflation and other growth indices. The hike in their salaries is a course correction and not a benefit that the state is extending to the teachers, a benefit that has to be answered with tactile proof of labour. Many tend to forget that teaching is not an act of philanthropy, but a profession, like many others. This is never to say that teachers and academics are beyond answerability. No one is and no one should be. If truant teachers are getting away with all sorts of excuses, they should be made answerable. And one way of doing so could be to ensure that they spend a given amount of hours in class and in work related to classroom teaching. That’s the raison d’etre of the profession and that should be ensured. But teaching is one profession in which class room hours are only a part. A teacher has to spend hours formulating courses, preparing for lectures, correcting answer scripts, researching areas relevant to interests or that of his discipline. How can one map them with hours? Can the biometric system ensure that it takes all the above into account? Never. And that is why the biometric system is not the right way or perhaps not the only way to ensure performance from teachers. There could be a range of measures, a combination of rewards and reprimand perhaps, that could be evolved to ensure that teachers perform. But a biometric attendance is a typically corporate solution for an academic question.
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