Calling the manner in which the state was intervening in higher education ‘worrying and alarming’, a group of academicians from Delhi’s Central universities on Thursday expressed their opposition against the ‘thoughtlessness’ behind the choice-based credit system (CBCS), and the ‘opacity and reckless speed’ with which it is being pursued.
The opposition to the Centre’s attempt at academic reforms comes weeks after the University Grants Commission (UGC), in a public notice issued on April 10, said it is ready with the draft model syllabi for undergraduate courses.
The UGC plans to introduce CBCS in varsities across India starting this year. In its notice, the commission had sought feedback from stakeholders within 15 days. The new system proposes a common syllabus for all central universities, a common entrance test, faculty and credit transfers.
“Centralised control of standardised curriculum is suggestive of a lack of academic rigour. A common syllabus for 51 universities is not only a mammoth task, but also largely unnecessary. Good universities will have to lower standards in order to conform to a common standard of teaching the same syllabus,” Romila Thapar, renowned historian and Emerita professor at JNU, said.
Thapar also cautioned against the system of inter-university mobility being wrongly used to “take punitive action to get rid of students and teachers who do not toe the line”.
“In this entire system, there will be two casualties. First, the standard of education in good universities will suffer. The second and bigger casualty is that universities will no longer be autonomous. It is essential for universities to be autonomous to devise reasonable teaching ways. What one fears, then, is that universities will be reduced to teaching shops and coaching centres,” Thapar said.
While suggesting ways to bring in academic reforms, the group said the Human Resource Development Ministry is rushing through with this ‘ill-conceived’ system.
“We accept that much needs to be reformed in the country’s education system, especially in the higher education system. But what we want is a creative reform, not a top-down, poorly thought out process like this,” Satish Deshpande, Sociology Professor at Delhi University, said.
The group claimed that homogenisation of curricula across universities is not a means to enhance quality.
Farida Khan, Professor at Jamia Millia Islamia’s School of Education, said, “The justifications offered are enhanced employability, skill development and seamless nationwide mobility for students. However, the reforms fail to differentiate between curricula and syllabi,” |
Instead of giving a green signal to the UGC’s ambitious plan of implementing CBCS from the coming academic session, the group proposed an alternate way of achieving seamless national-wide mobility of students.
Delhi University Teachers’ Association president Nandita Narain said they plan to start a student-teacher movement to block the implementation of CBCS.