WB rejects plan to bar college teachers from talking to media
West Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee says the allegation that the freedom of speech of university professors is being curbed is a blatant lie
Kolkata: The West Bengal government has rejected recommendations by a panel set up by its higher education department to determine the terms and conditions of employment of college teachers after it proposed that teachers be barred from talking to the media or express their views on public policy.
One of the panel’s key recommendations was that teachers would be barred from expressing their views on policies of both the state and central governments in the media. If accepted without modification, the proposals meant teachers would not be allowed to write in newspapers, share their views for being reported or appear on television shows.
But Partha Chatterjee, the state’s education minister, on Wednesday said on Twitter that the “allegation that the freedom of speech of university professors is being curbed... is a blatant lie”. He clarified that no such rule is to be implemented. The minister had earlier said that he had issues with several recommendations made by the panel.
Several organizations of university teachers had said they would take legal action if the state government implemented the new terms and conditions. Another of the panel’s key recommendations was to keep new recruits on probation for two years, which, according to some teachers, is too long. The panel had also recommended that teachers should be barred from offering private tuition or taking up part-time assignments.
Rules for attendance were proposed to be tightened with colleges being asked to create infrastructure for recording attendance through biometric devices. “Every college shall maintain a biometric system of attendance for recording the attendance and departure of all employees,” the panel had proposed. Also, the age of retirement for teachers was proposed to be set at 62.
The proposals of the panel are at variance with what the minister had expected, said a key official in the higher education department, who asked not to be named. The bar on talking to media got more attention than many other contentious proposals, he said, adding that these new rules are not to be implemented anytime soon.
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