With less than 10 days left for Delhi University to open admissions to its four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP),the university announced the syllabus for the new format.
A key feature of the programme,the foundation courses have evoked criticism from many quarters. Those opposing the four-year format raise an eyebrow on the compulsory nature of the 11 foundation courses.
With a section of teachers stating that it fails to meet the needs of students coming from different backgrounds,a major point of criticism has been the curricula of these courses.
Under the foundation courses,students in the first two years will be required to study information technology,philosophy,psychology,communication,life skills,business,entrepreneurship,management,geographic and socio-economic diversity,Indian history and culture,and building mathematical ability.
Math is only a word
Emphasising the day-to-day nature of the foundation course,Ajay Kumar,convenor of building mathematical ability,that the course will be like a new subject for everyone.
Even though the word math is involved,there is no great or abstract mathematics in the course. Students should have knowledge of methods of data collection in our everyday lives, he says.
Kumar says students who have studied math till Class XII,will also benefit from the skill-based course. With the new session set to begin in July,the convenor says the university is in the process of developing course material in Hindi and English.
He also ruled out any tutorials for the foundation courses.
The course aims at providing experience to the students for gaining insight into the world of data for building models and for providing a glimpse into the practical power of the world of numbers.
The course involves the study of Euclids division algorithm,data collection techniques,statistics,probability,Ramanujans work on the Prime Number Theorem,along with projects-based on data on population,bus accidents,etc.
Nandita Narain,who teaches mathematics at St Stephens College,said: It will be extremely difficult for students who have not studies math to understand the course.
According to her,probability theory,which is part of the course,is taught only at the the plus-two level and RSA algorithm is not taught at the school-level.
Life and science
The foundation course on science and life will involve the study of origin and evolution of life,nutrients and household chemicals,industry and technology in daily life,among other subjects.
Each of these subjects will have courses such as refrigerators,pumps and resistive heaters; safety and disposal of electrical/electronic items; fuses,tolerance and rating of gadgets (in terms of power consumption).
Students will also be expected to know about pharmaceutical and cosmetics,generic and herbal drugs,drug abuse and its consequences. It will also include at least eight projects such as analyse various theories for chemical evolution of life on earth; collect data of various chemicals identified on different planets/satellites; identifying the past and future space missions,which will search for earth-like world in other solar systems.
For students who have not studied Hindi/ MIL/ Sanskrit/ Persian/ Arabic up to eighth standard,there is a foundation course in Indian literature. The course will attempt to be trans-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary in content and design and integrate course work with hands-on project work to introduce the student to the fundamental objectives of the course.
Course material will include literary selections from different regions of the country written in or translated into English. The course includes A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth,Proprietor by Nabanita Dev Sen and Bhil Lokakhyano:Oral Narratives of the Dungri Bhils.
Students will be assessed on writing and literary sensibility through class presentation and project evaluation via group presentations.
The course in language,literature and creativity-II in English will involve the study of economic development,rural and urban linkages,urbanisation,sanitation,public health,food security,among other subjects.
The course aims to enhance students language skills in a variety of social situations,academic and professional contexts,developing reading writing and listening skills,through 48 class hours and 12 student presentations. The course will include 16 texts,eight units from diverse genres and each text will include eight hours of class study.
Convenor of the course,Sumanyu Satpati,Head of Department of English,said the course is designed to be different from regular courses in English and takes on board several aims and objectives.
Students from all disciplines are unable to do well in professional fields because of weak spoken and written English. What is done in schools is not enough, Satpati said.
He said that even bright students from commerce or science streams tend to bunk the English class as the approach to the study of English is very academic.
Classes have to be made interesting. We dont want classes to be merely lectures. The pedagogy itself is very complicated, Satpati said.
Tech in daily life
The course in information technology aims to educate undergraduates in the role of IT in education,society and business as well as enable students to be aware of basic hardware and software components that makes the data processing possible.
It will involve the study of information handling,internet,security and legal aspects,information resource centres: library information systems,etc.
All foundation courses will have a total of 75 marks based on continuous evaluation of projects (35 marks) and end of semester written examination (40 marks).