Four-yr programme in DU a milestone decision

Some students, staff welcome the change while others oppose the move

For months together many students, parents and teachers felt outraged by Delhi University’s decision to convert undergraduate courses into four-year programmes.

Despite resistance from various quarters, Delhi University in July switched to a four-year mode. Many complained that major stakeholders were left out from the university’s new scheme.

In the curriculum championed by the Delhi University Vice Chancellor Dinesh Singh, students are now supposed to take up 11 mandatory foundation courses and two discipline courses, one being what they major in.

This course structure comes with multiple exit points – Associate Baccalaureate after two years, Baccalaureate in three years or a Baccalaureate with Honours after four years.
Ashish Kumar, 22, an alumnus of Delhi University, is a critic of the university’s four-year programme. He graduated last year and is now interning with a corporate communication company in Gurgaon.

Commenting on the increase in admission cut-offs and simultaneous introduction of the new programme, he says, “If 95 per cent is what it is, the students are going to go through a dumbing-down effect because the university isn’t prepared, or rather not competent, to teach the new four-year course, let alone the three-year programme that I was part of.”

Kumar says students will not be prepared to take on life’s challenges, and adding an extra year will only make it worse. “At best, these students will be cocooned for four years and then clamour for unpaid internships or low-paying entry level jobs. Or even better, soon after graduation, they can enrol themselves for a two-year Master’s programme,” he says sarcastically.

Teachers in several colleges complained that they were not consulted before this major overhaul in the education system or given enough time to redesign the courses.
“I was in the department teaching for two years and then moved out of that,” says Vikramaditya Sahai, PhD student at Delhi University who worked as a teaching assistant at the Department of Political Science.

“I left it as soon as my department passed the FYUP (four-year undergraduate programme). It was plainly unethical to pass it and my department passed it. So I left the job.”

Sahai was asked if his withdrawal can be considered as a protest. “You can’t call one person filing a resignation a protest. I didn’t want to compromise on the very few ethics, especially on or about pedagogy.”

Infrastructural challenges

Many professors point out at infrastructural challenges before the university. For instance, they say close to 4,000 vacancies for teachers have not been filled.
Rajhans Kumar, an associate professor in the Department of Hindi, acknowledges the problems at the implementation level, but feels that the curriculum has been introduced with a good intent.

“There has been a lot of politicking on FYUP. Those teachers who resisted change aren’t in favour of teaching. Why no one talks about the multiple exit points provided in the curriculum,” he says.

“I enjoy teaching now. Literature requires a creative approach, the new curriculum encourages just that with more focus on projects, presentations and group discussions,”
“It is a wait and watch situation,” says Vinay Sharma, a first-year student of Mathematical Science at Delhi University.

He enjoys his projects and presentation sessions. But after his undergraduate course, he wants to enroll for an MBA programme that he thinks will enhance his job prospects.
To the contrary, the new guidelines released on Wednesday for nursery admission for 2014-15 was cheered by parents in Delhi. The 20 per cent management quota now stands abolished.

Under these guidelines 70 points out of 100 will be given to candidates who live within eight kilometres of the school, 20-point weightage is for children with a sibling already studying at the school, five points for wards of alumni and five for girls.

There are some one lakh seats for nursery admission in the capital and with the abolition of management quota, 20,000 seats will now fall under the open category.

The new guidelines were finalised by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, who was asked by the Delhi High Court to look into the matter after an NGO filed a petition.

Jung divided the total seats into categories – 25 per cent for economically weaker sections and disadvantaged groups, five per cent for staff children and another five per cent for girls in co-educational schools. The remaining 65 per cent seats are for the general category.

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