Mumbai: While students stand to gain plenty from Maharashtra's decision to revamp higher education in 2023-24, apprehensions are rising from the flip side of the system. Colleges and varsities in the state have been asked to implement a stockpile of changes like four-year UGs, entry-exit systems, and one-hour lectures with only six months to go.
Maharashtra’s Higher Education Department recently asked colleges to start the next academic year no later than August 1, 2023, while instructing them to extend their normal 48-minute lectures to an hour. Neither guidelines nor notices have followed this announcement, leaving teachers wondering what the second half of the year holds.
Teacher associations allege lack of details despite being stakeholders
“Several details still remain unclear. We know that the lectures will be pushed upto one hour but we are unsure whether that would increase the total teacher workload or simply up the minutes and reduce the number of lectures in the week,” said Dr. Vijay Pawar, President of Maharashtra Union of Secular Teachers(MUST).
Apart from the rise in teaching hours, the faculty are also expected to adapt to the plans of a cluster system where professors of particular subjects will have to teach their own students alongside those hailing from neighboring colleges. This once again will impact the workload of the teaching faculty.
“This is a composite issue,” says Madhu Paranjpe, general secretary of the Bombay University and College Teachers' Union(BUCTU). “Nearly 50% of teaching positions are still vacant in colleges and the government has not begun recruiting. The entire policy has been decided by the higher-ups while the teacher, an important stakeholder in the process, remains uninformed. Several committees have been formed and diluted but no conversation was extended towards the college principals or professors,” she added.
Professors await teacher hiring guidelines
As of date, varsities still have no idea how the fourth undergraduate year will be implemented and Mumbai University is yet to establish its academic council. Teacher hiring guidelines have not been released and it is unclear whether they will be hired on a full-time or a contract basis.
“Colleges will soon have to resolve several logistical issues, as we might not have the infrastructure to implement everything simultaneously. The college timetable will have to ensure that the students at all times have enough classrooms whilst also accommodating the junior college and fourth-year students,” said Prof. Manisha Bhave.
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