Study material not ready, teachers skip exam duties

Truant teachers and shortage of study material have compromised functioning of Delhi University’s School of Open Learning (SOL), which alone enrols nearly three-fourths of all university students in various degree programmes.

According to an SOL study, teachers often skipped their invigilation duties for postgraduate exams held in April and May. The list of absentees includes the Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vijay Goel’s wife Preeti Goel who didn’t carry out any of the 11 invigilation duties assigned to her. She teaches in the SOL’s Department of Nutrition and Health Education.

All the absentee teachers were served show cause notice, said university sources.

Teachers of the DU’s distance learning arm are also lagging behind in preparing study material – like notes, audio and video lectures and web-based packages. At least four departments don’t have the lessons ready for their students.

And some of the textbooks given to students were last updated more than five years ago.
Since 2008, the university has sent nearly a dozen reminders to SOL to finalise the study material. 

“The availability status of study material as on July, 2014 of Department of Political Science shows that out of the total study material, only 42 per cent material is available,” says another SOL study.

The Commerce department which runs two undergraduate and one postgraduate programme has less than half of the total study material needed ready. Hindi and Sanskrit departments are also behind:
they have prepared only 76 and 64 per cent of the material required.

 University sources said the rate at which study material is being prepared, it will be months before the job is over.

“Typically preparation of study unit of about 5,000 words would involve 150 hours of academic work,” say minutes of the SOL staff council meeting.

For creating multimedia content, including video lectures, DU academicians say that SOL teachers took more time than required.

Preparation of an audio lecture of about 30 minutes takes about 30 hours, and creating a multimedia package about 200 hours.

Among the other problems that plague SOL’s day-to-day functioning, is the highly skewed teacher-student ratio – almost 35 teachers to approximately 4.5 lakh students.

As the institution is severely short-staffed, all distance education teachers are also required to perform administrative duties. On an average a teacher spends one hour every day at the meeting of various committees, according to the staff council meeting report.

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