History teachers oppose 4-yr degree programme

PM's daughter too signs open letter against new format

Twenty History teachers, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s daughter, from Delhi University have come out with an open letter raising serious concerns over the course’s curriculum under the four-year undergraduate programme.

Teachers said the move was required since ‘forums for academic discussions and debate in the university are no longer functioning’.

“The public needs to know that discussions regarding the new FYUP were managed by the university authorities, not in a democratic academic environment framed by university regulations, but in committees carefully screened by the administration,” it stated.

“The department of History, indeed no department in the university, was involved in its formulation,” it stated.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s daughter Upinder Singh is also a signatory to the letter.

Criticising the manner in which the curriculum was formulated, the letter said, “We were eventually given a framework within which we were compelled to produce a syllabus for undergraduate instruction (about 35 courses to be taught in the third and fourth years of the programme) in the ridiculously short time of a fortnight, eventually changed to a month.”

“University authorities clearly have no conception that a task of this kind requires time for serious deliberation and discussion about academic content of the courses and the pedagogic principles underlining them,” the letter said.

It also said that the department was kept in dark about the mandatory compulsory ‘foundation courses’ (FC) to be taught for two years.

“Until recently we were actually not privy to their contents — such is the level to which the university has distanced its faculties from itself. All new courses are supposed to be first debated in the respective department councils, and then passed by their Committee of Courses and finally the respective faculties,” said the letter.

“These basic university regulations that ensure the quality and academic integrity of its courses were systematically flouted to enable the passing of the FC,” the letter added.
It said faculty of the history department did not participate in the recently conducted orientation programme for the History’s foundation course which was held for ‘specially selected’ college teachers.

Citing an example of The Indian History and Culture Course, teachers said the curriculum lacked ‘academic rigour’.

“The casualness in the preparation of this course is underlined by the fact that some of its parts are plagiarised from a class 11 CBSE textbook. Leaving the ethics of the case aside for the moment, the education of first year students in DU is pegged at the same standard as the CBSE,” it said.

Teachers have also highlighted that although the bibliography is ‘sophisticated’, the “actual sources of inspiration lie in the online materials — links to Wikipedia — to which students are also guided.

They were shocked to see this as teachers strongly dissuade students from using unverifiable information.

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