Kannur: Dr Shino P Jose, one of the two teachers who approached the Supreme Court against the reappointment of Kannur University Vice Chancellor Prof Gopinath Ravindran, has written to the new Vice Chancellor asking him to remove the autobiography of CPM leader K K Shailaja from the syllabus of MA English Language and Literature.
The former Minister for Health Shailaja's 'My Life as a Comrade: The Story of an Extraordinary Politician and the World That Shaped Her' is part of an elective course (Life Writing) in the first semester of the course.
Dr Shino Jose said Shailaja's autobiography was included in the course along with the autobiographies of Mahatma Gandhi and B R Ambedkar by an illegal ad hoc committee appointed by Prof Ravindran. He urged the new Vice Chancellor in-charge Prof S Bijoy Nandan to disband the ad hoc committees and initiate steps to constitute boards of studies for the 72 subjects taught in the affiliated colleges of the university.
Dr Shino Jose said Prof Ravindran usurped the rights of Chancellor Mohammed Arif Khan and constituted 72 boards of studies in August 2021.
But Dr Shino Jose, who is the president of the Kannur Regional Committee of Kerala Private College Teachers' Association, approached the High Court and got the university's notification constituting the boards quashed in March 2022.
"There were 800 members in the 71 boards of studies. Out of which, 60 were ineligible. They did not have NET or PhD, or they were not teachers approved by the university," he said.
In his letter to Prof Nandan, he said his organisation, affiliated with the Congress, submitted to the Chancellor a list of teachers with PhD and Post Doctoral degrees but they were not inducted into the boards of studies because they were not affiliated with the Left teachers' association. "Please take steps to form the new boards of studies fulfilling merit as the only criterion," he wrote in his letter.
He said a section of teachers had grievances about how Prof Ravindran conducted the initial discussions and formed committees to roll out the four-year degree programme (FYDP) as part of the new education policy. He urged the Vice Chancellor to modify the FYDP committees on democratic lines and monitor their functioning.
Dr Shino Jose, an assistant professor at St Pius X College in Kasaragod's Rajapuram, also urged the Vice Chancellor Prof Nandan to put a stop to the university sending question papers to the email IDs of college principals two hours before the examination. He said the scheme was to favour some students.
He also sought an inquiry into how the university under Prof Ravindran changed the admission criteria for the MA English course this year to help one leader of the SFI join the programme at Kasaragod Government College.
Dr Premachandran Keezhoth, an Assistant Professor at Payyannur College, said the blatant influence of a political party over decisions taken by Prof Ravindran and the recruitment he carried out in his second term were the reasons why he and Dr Shino Jose challenged his reappointment in the Supreme Court.
He said the recruitment of Dr Priya Varghese in the Department of Malayalam despite having lower research scores than other candidates became controversial because she is the wife of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's private secretary K K Ragesh. "But Kannur University campus has a lot of Priya Vargheses. Most of such appointments were made during and after the Covid pandemic. They did not become news because they are not high profile," he said.
Dr Keezhoth, the state general secretary of KPCTA, said many candidates complained that their documents submitted along with their job application were missing. "When they enquire with the university, they are told the documents were not submitted.
For the recruitment of the registrar, the university got only three applications and it rejected two and appointed the lone "eligible" applicant Prof Joby K Jose as the registrar.
One of the applications rejected belonged to Associate Professor Jithesh K of MG College in Kannur's Iritty. When he took the university to the High Court, it filed an affidavit saying Dr Jithesh did not have 'university-level' teaching experience and 'no administrative experience in responsible post' in a university or college. The university had to submit a new affidavit after its lies were exposed in the court, said Dr Keezhoth. But Jithesh did not get the job, Prof Joby Jose did.
The KPCTA also demanded that the university should appoint a full-time Finance Officer. The post has been lying vacant for more than six years. Now a deputy registrar (DR) is in charge of the statutory post of finance officer. "A DR cannot resist VC's unreasonable financial decisions," said Dr Keezhoth.
He said under Prof Ravindran, the university was fleecing students in the name of fees and fines. "If a PhD scholar fails to submit her thesis on time, the university slaps a fine of Rs 1 lakh on her. Last day, the university slapped a fine of Rs 500 on NCC cadets saying they missed the deadline to apply for grace marks," he said. The funny part is the university's exams are in April-May, he said.
For revaluation, the university charges Rs 250 for one paper. "Even if the student's challenge is found to be true, and she goes on to get more marks, the university will not return the money taken for revaluation. It is not the student's mistake that she was evaluated poorly in the first place," he said.
Dr Keezhoth said the high fees and unreasonable fines are a big blow to students because they come from poor families. "The university used the money raised by fleecing these poor children to fight legal cases in court," he said. "Our demand is for the university to take back the money it spent on lawyers to fight Prof Gopinath's case. It will be in crores not in lakhs," he said.
On November 30, the Supreme Court quashed the reappointment of Prof Ravindran as Vice Chancellor of Kannur University, not on the grounds on which the two teachers challenged but because Chancellor Khan succumbed to the "unwarranted interference of the state government" and did not exercise his discretion.
On December 1, the Chancellor appointed Prof Nandan of CUSAT's School of Marine Sciences, as the Vice Chancellor in charge of Kannur University.