DU’s 4-yr undergrad programme: A recipe for disaster

We need at least one more year to access the implications of the programme before experimenting with students’ future

Rakesh Kumar Pandey | April 15, 2013

The semesterisation in Delhi University could not achieve what was claimed by its implementer. The earlier vice-chancellor compromised all the features (like interdisciplinary approach, lesser burdening of students and allowing in-depth understanding of subjects, etc.) in order to achieve semesterisation. As warned, the examination structure almost collapsed initially and that resulted in unreasonable distribution of marks. This invited students’ plea for transparency and reevaluation that was further crushed with a hike in reevaluation fees and implementation of another flawed approach of getting three examiners to check a single paper.

And now we all know that after being unable to tackle the pressure of bi-annual semester system, the university examination wing is compelled to pass this unmanageable burden on to the college administration. The university authorities now seem to have admitted their failure in achieving the aim of semesterisation but only in misusing this to justify the timing for ‘their’ another proposal of four-year-undergraduate-programme when the first batch of semester-graduates is yet to exit the colleges.

Unfortunately, the only lesson that the university seems to have learnt from its recent experiment with students’ future is that they now know that the administration can implement their ideas ignoring all reasoned oppositions. The failure of teachers’ movement in opposing the semesterisation process has created two-fold problems. One, that teachers are now apprehensive in taking another such reasoned stand that led to a system that is completely non-responsive and secondly the University authorities have got unreasonably emboldened. Now there is no one who bothers to answer you and that has led to a situation where nobody is willing to ask ‘unnoticed’ question.

Whereas the semesterisation was a bundle of mere cosmetic changes that boiled down to accepting a bi-annual examination programme, this time the proposed structure is set to remodel our vision and understanding on the aims and objectives of our education system. It seems to have set to produce a generation of unskilled youth-power only fit to become salesman and ready to get exploited in the new consumerism world. Only with this vision one can approve dilution of disciplinary subjects, wastage of one year without any value addition, disorienting a student that was oriented towards a particular discipline of choice during their school studies and introduction of eleven pre-elementary level ‘non-focused’ foundation courses. And all these are being made to swallow by a system whose infrastructure is yet to soak the impact of the sudden expansion due to the OBC reservation policy and have started showing cracks due to the presence of an unreasonably large number of temporary/ad hoc teaching and non-teaching staff members.

Do we have no option but to listen to the tickles of the time-bomb and wait for its explosion at the time of admission that is set to devastate the university leaving it probably unable to reconstruct itself in a near future? The university authorities seem to have time neither to listen to these apprehensions nor dispel them and nor are they prepared to give us time to plug the loopholes to defuse the time-bomb.

What we need is at least one more year to assess the implications of the new programme and make suitable corrections before experimenting with students’ future again.

(Dr. Pandey is an associate professor in the physics department of Kirori Mal College.)




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