Tribhuvan University administration padlocked for five months in two yearsTeachers and professors stage a counter protest demanding end to ‘padlock culture’.
A group of Tribhuvan University teachers on Thursday demonstrated against the repeated padlocking of the university administration by student unions. Dozens of lecturers and professors at the university participated in the protest in front of the vice-chancellor's office at Kirtipur with placards reading “university cannot be closed” and “ensure safety of teachers.”
The demonstration was organized to counter the ongoing padlocking of the university administration by part-time teachers of the university and student unions to press their various demands.
Those who participated in the demonstration said the academic and administrative works at the university have been crippled due to continuous padlockings at the university. They decided to stage the demonstration to draw the attention of the protestors that padlockings are no solution. On Monday, the university administration had appealed to the parties concerned including the teachers, staff and student unions to allow a smooth functioning of the university.
“The university administration is always positive about addressing the [protesters’] concerns through dialogue,” reads an appeal issued by the university registrar’s office. “The obstruction in the functioning of the university administration through padlocking is not a solution.” Part-time lecturers have been padlocking various offices of the university for months demanding that they should be made permanent through an internal competition. The government in 2006 had decided to hire 1,380 part-time and 460 “course contact” teachers at the university as teaching assistants.
In 2014, the assistant teaching staff pressured the university administration to make special arrangements to make them permanent without a competitive test. The university’s Service Commission in March 2014 called vacancies for competitive tests. Most of the 1,840 teachers, who got fixed-term appointments in the oldest varsity of the country, got to teach as part-timers without facing any tests. However, 480 of them couldn’t succeed in the internal competition and several other competitions held later.
Now as the university administration has called a vacancy of 1,420 lecturers, the teachers have been demanding permanent posting through internal competition. The university, however, has been saying that is not possible.
The university administration will not bow to pressure tactics like padlocking and hunger strikes and appoint teachers, the appeal by the registrar’s office says.
Similarly, Nepal Students’ Union, a student wing of the ruling Nepali Congress, too has padlocked the university administration office saying there have been irregularities in issuing affiliation to colleges. “We had to resort to padlocking the administration’s office to draw the attention of the university because they would not listen to other forms of protest,” Rajeeb Dhungana, the president of the union, told the Post. “We will continue with padlocking until our concerns are addressed.”
The officials at the university say they have always tried to address the genuine concerns of the teachers and students through dialogue. They say the continuous padlocking has affected the academic calendar, delayed the exam results and hampered other administrative works. Dr Dharma Kanta Banskota, vice chancellor at the university, said his office has been padlocked for a total of five months in two years since he assumed office. Vice-chancellor is the executive head of the university.
“The university administration has been padlocked for 149 days since I took office in November 2018,” he told the Post. “This has crippled our administrative works.”