In 2015, JNU started the first Bachelors Programme in Pashto language in the country. It was to be an integrated BA-MA programme, wherein students would get direct entry in the MA programme on fulfilling certain eligibility criteria. But with the first batch of graduates due to complete their BA in May, and the MA course likely to begin only next year, students say they are facing an uncertain future.
The Centre for Persian and Central Asian Studies (CPCAS) in the School of Languages, Literature and Cultural Studies (SLL&CS) runs the three-year undergraduate programme in Pashto, which has one Afghan national and 15 Indian students. Students say that when they took admission in the course in 2015-16, the prospectus mentioned an integrated BA-MA programme. But the Centre is likely to start the programme only next year (2019-20).
The 2015-16 prospectus read: “BA (Hons) being an integral part of the 5-year MA Programme, on successful completion of BA (Hons), the student will be eligible to seek registration to the first year of the MA programme in the respective language, without having to go to through the entrance examination again subject to his/her fulfilling minimum eligibility requirements.”
After students raised concerns that they would waste a year, the Board of Studies (BoS) at the School — a body which decides on academic matters — decided to “consider the proposal of CPCAS for offering MA programme in Pashto language” in its meeting held on November 15, 2017.
Despite this, students say there is no clarity. A student from Uttar Pradesh said talks with the Vice-Chancellor over the issue had “failed”. “My classmates and I tried to tell him about our problem, but he kept saying ‘we are working on it’. There is no MA course in Pashto except in JNU, so our option is to either go to Afghanistan or waste a year here. We have no option left but to go to court now,” he claimed.
CPCAS chairperson Syed Ainul Hasan said he would bring up the matter in the next Academic Council meeting — the date of which is yet to be declared. “…The only constraint is the number of teachers. We have only one permanent faculty… We will bring it up in the AC; only once that is approved can a decision be taken. We are hoping against hope that we can start the MA course this year itself; the university is also looking to do that,” he said. Dean SLL&CS could not be reached for a comment. JNU Registrar, Rector I and VC did not respond to calls or texts by The Indian Express.
“When we had taken admission, we were told that being the first batch of students in the country with an MA in Pashto, our future would be bright. We did not even prepare for other entrances for MA,” said a student from Punjab.
The minutes of the meeting, signed by the Dean, read: “After discussion, it was resolved to approve the proposal of CPCAS to offer MA Programme in Pashto language, after making minor modifications in some of the courses as suggested by the members. Dean brought to the notice of the members that terminal students of BA Pashto language are greatly distressed as MA courses would only be effective from 2019-20 admissions. Dean informed the members that we are in the process of exploring some possibilities so that students do not have to waste one year. Chairperson, CPCAS was requested to impress upon JNU administration to facilitate the entry of the present BA students into the MA programme from the next academic year.”