Bihar: Spectre of Joblessness Haunts 1,200 Engineering Teachers Working Under TEQIP

The third phase of the project ends in September this year, and even though the Central government has extended the period till March, 2021, the future of these non-permanent teachers hangs fire.

Patna: The future of around 1,200 teachers appointed in engineering colleges across 13 states under the Technical Education Quality Improvement Project (TEQIP) effort, is at serious risk, thanks largely to government apathy.

More than 200 of the 1,253 professors were serving in eight engineering colleges – Bhagalpur College of Engineering, Darbhanga College of Engineering, Gaya College of Engineering, Loknayak Jai Prakash Institute of Technology, Motihari College of Engineering, Muzaffarpur Institute of Technology, Nalanda College of Engineering and Aryabhatta Knowledge University (Patna) in Bihar.

On February 1, 2017, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the World Bank and the government of India to improve the quality of education in engineering colleges of backward states. 

Under the MoU, World Bank gave a loan of US $ 201.50 million. The contract was under the third phase of the project. Its first phase ran from 2002 to 2009.

The World Bank had issued a press release saying, “TEQIP III builds on the significant results achieved in the two phases of the project which together supported over 250 engineering institutes such as NIT Surathkal, College of Engineering Pune, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Hyderabad, and BIT Mesra. It has made a considerable impact on the quality of education by implementing institutional and policy reforms focusing on institutional autonomy and accountability. “

Also read: J&K: Centre’s Sudden Decision to End SHG Scheme Renders 15,000 Engineers Jobless Overnight

“TEQIP III will support approximately 200 engineering education institutes across India to produce higher quality and more employable engineers,” adds the 2017 press release.

The third phase of the project ends in September this year, after which the terms of services of these professors will come to an end. Meanwhile, the Central government has extended TEQIP-III till March, 2021.

Dr. Bushra Zaman, Nodal Officer, State Project Implementation Unit, Bihar, informed The Wire, “Project has been extended till March 31, 2021. National Project Implementation Unit will soon issue letters to all the college regarding this.”

The colleges will be told that the project has been extended and colleges can retain the faculty members till March, 2021. However, this extension is only for six months with no way forward after that.

Twenty-eight-year-old Mohammad Nadir teaches at Bhagalpur Engineering College and was appointed under TEQIP III. He told The Wire, “We were appointed after several rounds of exams, presentations and interviews. The salary was also fine, so I felt that I had a stable career. But there does not seem to be any process in place to reappoint us.”

“Those professors teaching in engineering colleges are highly educated and no one can question their qualifications. They have taught honestly. The concerned state governments should re-appoint them so that states produce good engineers,” said Nadir.

Professors say a contract was signed between the World Bank and the Central government, and another was signed between the Central government and state governments stating, “Well-performing faculty hired using project funds will be retained post project, or else unchanged and any of these faculty retained, will be paid exclusively from state fund.”

Also read: After Uproar, Finance Ministry ‘Clarifies’: Recruitment for Govt Jobs to Continue

But no state governments have assured that these professors will be able to retain their jobs.

Several of the professors of these engineering colleges have been sitting on a dharna in front of their respective colleges since September 4.

Shortage of faculty in engineering colleges

There are dozens of engineering colleges in Bihar, all of which suffer from shortage of professors. In such a case, if the professors appointed under TEQIP III are removed after the termination of service, then studies will be severely affected in these colleges, say these professors.

Around 1,000 students study in Bhagalpur Engineering College. There are about 52 teachers for them, out of which 37 teachers have been appointed under TEQIP III. If the service of 37 teachers ends, then only 15 teachers will be left.

Darbhanga Engineering College has approximately 1,100 students. Around 46 faculties were appointed under TEQIP III. Once their service is over, only 12 professors will remain in the college.

The same is the case with other engineering colleges. Not just this, but teachers of seven of these eight engineering colleges also mentor those in the engineering colleges set up in each district under the state government’s Saath Nishchay scheme. 

In Bihar, examinations and appointments for vacancies take place at a lag of at least three or four years.

In many cases, the results of exams for vacancies, taken three to four years ago, have not come out yet. If they have, appointments have not been made yet.

Also read: The Coronavirus Lockdown Has Been a War on India’s Informal Labour

Nadir said, “In addition to this, our service is ending at a time of heath crisis when no new appointments are taking place in private and government colleges. Rather, jobs opportunities are shrinking.”

TEQIP co-ordinator at Bhagalpur College of Engineering, Anshul Shekhar, also believes that education at engineering colleges will be majorly affected if teachers’ services are not extended.

He told The Wire, “There is huge shortage of teachers in engineering colleges. If government wants to appoint new teachers in place of them then it has to start the process but nothing is being done yet.”

Livelihoods at stake

Dr. Pooja Kumari teaches at Darbhanga Engineering College. She has two daughters, who are studying in schools in Darbhanga itself.

Also read: State Govts Issued Over 83 Lakh Job Cards Under MGNREGA Since April

She told The Wire, “My girls’ education depends on my earnings. If the job goes away, their studies will come to a standstill. “

“The college I am teaching in is in a rural area. I drive my scooty 8 km every day to go to the college. Students we are teaching are from rural areas. The satisfaction of making a difference this way is more than a salary,” she said.

She further said, “Every year our work was evaluated and a report would be sent. Our work was more than satisfactory. Our performance was noted as ‘good’ in all assessment reports.”

Govind Jha, a teacher at the Bhagalpur Engineering College, told The Wire, “I was teaching at Amity University in Patna. When this project came, I left the job. I am 37 years old now. I have two children, who are studying in Bhagalpur itself. There will be no option left for me when this job is over. ”