The nearly 16,000-strong lecturers’ fraternity in Karnataka has been a flustered lot since a month. The reason: A state government order makes it mandatory for lecturers to produce a validity certificate authenticating their MPhil and PhD degrees to prove that their qualifications are not fake!
The education department’s order, which was issued at the behest of the directorate of collegiate education (DCE) on July 9 this year, insists upon validation certificates from lecturers in government colleges as well as aided colleges who have obtained their MPhil and PhD degrees from universities outside Karnataka.
The motive behind the order was to identify lecturers who are suspected to possess dubious degree certificates. But what has irked the lecturers is its implementation: Instead of targeting lecturers suspected to have indulged in foul-play, the authorities have generalised the issue and reportedly directed all lecturers to prove their academic credentials by getting validation certificates.
The college principals have been directed to file a compliance report to this effect by September 30.
Principal Secretary (Higher Education) Bharat Lal Meena told Bangalore Mirror: “We have been getting a lot of complaints that many of the fake universities are offering degrees. As we don’t know which degree certificates are procured by the lecturers, we have asked them to get their degree certificates authenticated. We are following this process to ascertain genuine degrees and hence I don’t think it is creating too many problems.”
However, the reactions from the lecturers’ fraternity has been terse. “Isn’t it a ridiculous order? I have been working as a government lecturer for the last six years and they (DCE authorities) are now telling me to get a validity certificate to authenticate my MPhil degree. What were they doing all these years?” retorted an angry lecturer who did not want to be identified.
In fact, the last recruitment of lecturers by the government was done in 2009 and around 2,500 lecturers had entered the service.
Sources said: The recruitment in 2009 was based on the 1996 University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines which allowed appointments on the basis of MPhil/PhD and National Eligibility Test (NET). The degree certificates of the new entrants was scrutinised thoroughly by the Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC) at the time of interview, examination and even while issuing appointment orders.
Validation certificates are being made mandatory not only for these 2,500 lecturers but also for those who have been working for decades.
There are 18 universities in the state with around 16,500 lecturers (6,500 government college lecturers and 10,000 aided college lecturers). While around 6,000 lecturers have secured appointments on the basis of their MPhil/PhD degrees, the increments of the old-timers have been based on their higher academic accomplishments.
A senior lecturer said: “I am on the verge of retirement and they want me to obtain a validity certificate for my PhD that was done 18 years ago! They now want me to run back to my university and get my PhD degree validated. Is it some kind of a joke being played on lecturers by some overzealous officials, bureaucrats and principals?”
The Karnataka State Government College Teachers Association (KGCTA) has also condemned the government’s method of weeding out lecturers with dubious academic credentials. Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, KGCTA President H Prakash said: “This is nothing but an attempt to malign the teaching fraternity. If the officials suspect the credentials of any lecturer they should entrust a probe to the CID, the police or any other investigating agency instead of ordering all lecturers to furnish a validity certificate. Do identify and sack the black sheep, but please don’t humiliate and insult lecturers by issuing such circulars seeking to generalise all lecturers as possible thugs. It harms the integrity of the lecturers.”
However, government sources said they could not come up with any other alternative to identify lecturers with fake certificates. But KGCTA said there was a simple method that could have been explored. “All that the authorities had to do was to open the website of UGC, take the list of unrecognised/fake universities from UGC, identify lecturers who have obtained degrees from such varsities and initiate action. Instead, they have chosen to humiliate all the lecturers.” Meanwhile, the debate over the controversial order has reached chief minister Siddaramaiah’s office as he holds the higher education portfolio. “We will examine the order and take a decision accordingly,” officials in the chief minister’s office said.