Want to study literature with chemistry? Go for cafeteria model

Want to study literature with chemistry? Go for cafeteria model

He finds science exciting, but is absolutely petrified of chemistry; if he takes commerce, accountancy will have to be tolerated; humanities will entail studying economics or history, neither of which interests him, though he ardently wants to pursue sociology.

How he wished he could study mathematics, sociology, literature, along with fine arts or perhaps classical music.  

Surely many of us have faced this ordeal and found ourselves loathing certain elective subjects that are offered as a package in boards and universities. In the rigid compartmentalised streams of science, commerce, humanities or even management in the undergraduate courses there are some subjects we can hardly escape though we neither nurture an interest nor possess an aptitude for them. Choice that a student is apparently given remains only a mirage after all.  

Advocates of such inflexible watertight divisions of knowledge will certainly argue that these subjects are complementary, aid future prospects and therefore need to be inseparable. But the fact remains that job markets have changed irrevocably prompting the centres of learning to gear up accordingly. The ability to remain pliable to changing times should be inherent to any education system.

Especially at the level of general degrees in higher education, universities need to maintain a laissez faire option at least in the matter of choice of subjects. This will not only be true to the spirit of university education but will add fillip to the pass percentage which is presently much less than desired.

Surprisingly, for all the reforms in higher education that is being touted and also initiated with almost obsessive alacrity, rarely has any thought been spared on providing students this fundamental right of exercising academic autonomy. Qualitative changes in higher education does not mean focusing only on technology, infrastructure, examination, teacher qualifications, pedagogy and the like, but much more. The changes need to become student-centric.  

Conservative rigidity

Some of the universities have tried to circumvent this conservative rigidity by offering a wide choice of subjects either as add-on courses or credit courses along with some compulsory core subjects. Central University of Karnataka (CUK) at Gulbarga — the only central university in the state — established in 2009 is a case in point. Student at this university have an academic freedom to choose and design their course of study by picking up components of allied, elective, supporting subjects along with their core course.

At the completion of their 12th standard education, students can pursue a five year integrated course at CUK and graduate with a master’s (MA) degree in the chosen discipline or avail an exit option at the end of three years with required credits, obtaining an honours graduate degree. All courses here are on Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) and the course contents are inter and multi disciplinary.

The CBCS or the ‘cafeteria model’ as it is called, allow students their choice of preferred subjects and branches of study, empowering them with an informed control over their studies. Further, students can migrate across an array of departments and schools of study in opting for their favoured subjects and also take up courses offered by other centres of excellence if necessary. This gives students the desired freedom to make an interest based choice; consequently making them learn more responsibly and in depth.

Student’s genuine love

It is common knowledge that interest and motivation are directly proportionate; a student’s genuine love for a particular study is an incentive enough for hard work resulting in better performance.

Gulbarga is one of the most backward regions of Karnataka in almost all parameters of development, where school enrolment and dropout rate in large measure continue to worry the authorities. Through the years pass percentage in both 10th board and in pre university have remained abysmally low impacting gross enrolment ratio in higher education, which is much less than the national average of 11 per cent.

In such a milieu the central government’s initiative to establish a Central University at Gulbarga, is noteworthy. Along with ample central funds and scholarships, it will bring in an atmosphere of excellence by providing education that is in tune with the regional and national ethos and at the same time compare with international standards.

Although students from across the country are expected to flock to CUK, those from Gulbarga and other northern districts of Karnataka which are equally backward will be encouraged to enroll. Along with special coaching initiative of CUK in communication English acting as a leveller, the cafeteria model will prove immensely beneficial for these mostly first generation learners who desperately yearn for a better life.

While some central and autonomous universities have chosen to introduce CBCS, it is for other universities across the country to emulate the same. Bringing in such changes would certainly involve administrative reorganisation in campuses to a large extent, but that is a small price to pay considering the qualitative improvement it will bring in millions of students.

(The writer is an educationist)

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)