The idea of an organization for private college teachers germinated as far back as 1932, when the renowned Prof. M.P.Paul and his colleagues of St. Thomas College, Thrissur were humiliated by the management through an arbitrary 10% cut in their salary. As Prof. M.P Paul himself said later, "starvation wages were cut by fell indiscrimination". There were then only four or five private colleges in Kerala with less than a hundred teachers and there could be no organization to defend their rights.
It was only twenty years later, in 1952 that the Travancore University Private College Teachers' Union was formed. In 1956, its name was changed to Travancore University Private College Teachers' Association ( TUPCTA )with Prof.A Ramayyar of Sree Narayana College,Kollam as the first President of the Association. After the formation of the Kerala University in 1957, it became Kerala Private College Teacher's Association(KPCTA). Malabar and Cochin Private College Teachers’ Association(MCPCTA) was formed in the same year under the leadership of Prof. V.R.Subramaniam of St.Thomas College,Trichur. MCPCTA and KPCTA merged together to form the All Kerala Private College Teachers' Association ( AKPCTA )in 1958.
The early struggles of the Association were aimed mainly at ensuring better service conditions for teachers and parity with government college teachers. In pay scales, service conditions, social status and in all other respects the private college teachers were inferior to those doing the same work in government colleges. The most notable action programme in this connection, held at Thiruvananthapuram on 4 th February 1961, was the silent procession of the college teachers in academic robes. It was the first open struggle by private college teachers which raised the brows of many a moralist. In the same year the Association took to another form of 'docile resistance' - boycott of university examination work. All this proved too feeble for the eyes and ears of the powerful and the mighty. In December 1961, AKPCTA took the decision to resort to direct action with effect from the tenth of January 1962. The move was put off on the assurance given by the Chief Minister that the private college teachers would be given the UGC scales and that a grant - in aid code incorporating provisions for DA would be implementedwithin three months. The significance of this achievement, apart from better pay packages for teachers, was that the implementation of the grant-in-aid code would ensure the involvement of the state government in the affairs of the private colleges where the managers were absolute despots.
By means of parliamentary and agitational efforts, the grant-in-aid code was implemented in 1962. Still the question of parity with the government college teachers in pay and service conditions remained unsolved. In most of the private colleges full and regular payment of salary was still a distant dream. Teachers had often to wait for months to get their salary . Setting aside its infinite whimpering for sympathy and relief, the Association declared a general strike from February 1, 1965 to get its just demands conceded . The state government now declared all India pay scales Rs. 250 - 500 and revised DA at government rates for private college teachers. But the managers refused to implement the pay scale declared by the government unless the government agreed to increase the grants. The state government had to accept the managers' demand to save the situation.
The year 1966 marked a great leap forward. The Association for the first time put forward the demand for direct payment by the government as the only effective measure to solve the long standing problems relating to salary and service conditions. AKPCTA's protracted struggle to secure security of service bore fruits in the form of legislative reforms. The Association called a convention at Thiruvananthapuram on January 21, 1968. There was a demonstration in which more than 3000 teachers participated. As per the decision of the convention, the private college teachers went on an indefinite strike for the first time demanding a separate chapter in the University Act , spelling out definite conditions of service for private college teachers. The strike lasted for 7 days. The government gave assurance regarding the legislation. Chapter VIII of the Kerala University Act of 1969 which deals with the service conditions of teachers in private colleges is hailed as the ' Magna Carta ' of private college teachers.
Though teachers now enjoyed security of service, they still had no assurance of prompt payment of full salary. This led to the indefinite strike for "direct payment" from 15th of Sept. 1971.The then President, Prof. K.M. Chandy called off the strike on his own on 10th Nov. But the strike continued under the banner of AKPCTA and was withdrawn only on Nov 13th. However, as part of the comprehensive reforms in higher education, the Govt. introduced a uniform fee structure for students and direct payment for teachers in 1972.The Government also imposed some restrictions in the form of social control on the admission of students and selection of teachers. The "direct payment agreement" is another milestone in the history of the teacher movement.
When pension statutes for private college teachers were passed in 1976, AKPCTA's demand for parity was fully materialized. From 1987 to 1990, AKPCTA conducted a series of struggles for the introduction of UGC scales in the State. The State Government put up the alibi that UGC scales would upset the salary structure prevailing in the state. It was in the course of these struggles that AKPCTA came into the larger fold of likeminded service organisations. AKPCTA leader Prof. R. Ramachandran Nair played a crucial role in this development. The immediate dividend was that the demand for UGC scales was included in the common charter of demands of the service organizations. Apart from conducting intensive propaganda throughout the State, AKPCTA joined hands with AKGCT to form a combined action committee to fight for UGC scales. An indefinite strike, which began on Feb.4, 1981, was called off on Feb.28 with the Government accepting the demand for UGC scales in principle. However, the Association had to fight many more struggles, both against the Central and State Governments and wait for another 10 years before UGC scales were finally implemented on 13th March, 1990.The 5th UGC scales were implemented on 21-12-99 with retrospective effect from 1-1-96
When the Government tried to implement the Pre-degree Board in 1986, AKPCTA opposed it tooth and nail and defeated the attempt. The role played by the AKPCTA struggle against the proposed Pre-Degree Board was great indeed. The Association could expose the the academic pitfalls and vested interests inherent in the reform. The restructuring of Pre-degree courses in tune with the national pattern was later carried out with the active support of the Association. As demanded by the Association, the reform was implemented in a phased manner linking it with the large-scale retirement of teachers during 1998-2001 and retaining all the existing teachers in the college stream.
AKPCTA's struggles for a just and humane transfer norms for teachers working in colleges under corporate managements bore fruits when statutory transfer norms were implemented in 1998.
From its inception in 1958, AKPCTA was mainly engaged in the struggles to secure decent wages and service conditions for private college teachers in the State. After the introduction of the UGC Scheme in 1991, the Association also began to take an active interest in academic activities. The Association proceeded with it systematically, by formulating a progressive, written policy statement on Education. The Academic Committee also prepared a model syllabi for undergraduate courses in 1997, which was implemented in some measure in the Universities of Kerala. The Syllabi was further revised in the semester pattern in 2002.At present the Academic Committee is engaged in making in-depth studies on issues of importance in Higher Education. The Committee has a number of publications to its credit.