DELHI DIARY: Coarse Correction

One of India’s top universities’ moves to ‘Americanise’ its 3-year graduate course faces flak for lack of adequate homework

Feb. 23, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 06 No. -17 Feb 22- 2013 (Falgun 11, 2069)

Come next session, and you will be able to witness a newly reformed ‘Americanized’ Delhi University (DU)!

But with the 2013 session just months away, the academia is now skeptical about the University’s decision to bring about a major change in its curriculum.

Roll back to December last year; the Delhi University took a giant step by deciding to upgrade its three year course to a four year course structure. This signaled a radical step on the part of the university, which has been following a three year course pattern since a very long time.  The new structure does, however, allow students to graduate after two years with a ‘diploma’ degree and after three years with a ‘general’ degree. But, the honors degree would only be available after completion of four years. The University had argued that the aim of the whole change was to make its system more flexible.

The decision which was received with mixed reviews has now started to come under critical scrutiny, thanks to the varsity’s under-preparedness.

One of the first arguments put forward by teachers and faculties alike is that a major change such as this one, should not have taken in haste.  The University passed the regulation only in December last year, just six months before the commencement of the new session. A major problem would be to design a new course for the new structure. While the university has been running on the three year model for quite some time now, a year extra would mean addition of large amount of materials. Teachers argue that enhancing course material requires years of research. Moreover, the larger problem lies in the fact that with the new session just four months away now, the university has still not discussed with its staffs as to what changes are to be introduced. “We were quite taken aback when the decision was taken in such a hurry,” says a faculty from one of the Colleges. “What’s even more surprising is that we are still not clear as to what alteration has been done”. 

The varsity had also invited criticisms from teacher earlier when it shifted to semester system.  “We were clueless then on how our course had to be taught. Its no different again.” says another professor recalling the change in semester system.

Some have however completely slammed the DU for changing the 10+2+3 pattern. “The decision was taken by the HRD Minister and the Prime Minister merely to ‘Americanize’ and increase private enterprises’ role in our public university” says a member of a Leftist student group. HRD Minister, Kapil Sibal, credited with bringing major changes in the education sector, had earlier argued that the new format had been introduced to keep in times with the western form of education.  But it is just a mere disguise to invite private involvement many say, as the step was taken to create uniform model for credit transfer to private foreign institutions. “The pattern which we have been following now had been recommended by the Education Commission of 1964-66 and has been followed since then without any glitch. Why change that now?” complains one student cum political activist. It has been alleged that HRD minister has treated the university as an experimentation ground and swayed decision to favour the interest of the few.

If the teacher’s bewilderment and the Leftist groups’ anger were not enough, the student’s dilemma added to the trouble. The new students who are to enroll in the university from the upcoming session are perplexed as to what to expect and how to plan their studies. “For years now, I have seen seniors plan their study for a three year structure. It’s completely different now”, says one Grade-12 student ready to apply for DU next year. What’s more, there has been no information or orientation of any sort for students in schools who are to apply in the coming years. The varsity argues that the new pattern provides more choice as students are given the liberty to choose courses from more than one stream (which was unavailable till now). But rather than more choices, it has been viewed as a forced choice due to an extra added year. Although under the new system, students may have access to research and more practical knowledge, the incomplete roadmap fails to explain what level of research will be involved and how practical the new knowledge is going to be.

As for now, confusion seems to surround the air around Delhi University. Although the University should be applauded for upgrading its age old system, it is arguable if the decision should have taken place in such a hurry and preparation!

Abijit Sharma

Abijit Sharma

SHARMA is Associate Editor of New Spotlight News Magazine.

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