Start more colleges in Delhi

Start more colleges in Delhi

The silly season is on again in Delhi University. The DU has begun releasing the cut-off lists for admission to undergraduate courses at its 63 colleges. There is some fuss that unlike the previous years, no college pegged the minimum marks required for admission to certain courses at 100%. This hardly changes the big picture: the minimum school-leaving marks needed to get into a college in DU are ridiculously high. In the first cut-off list, Ramjas College was demanding 99.25% score in the chosen four subjects in Class 12 board exams. For English, Khalsa College was asking for 98.75%. No doubt, these are the more popular courses at the more ‘prestigious’ colleges – and the ceiling will be lowered as more cut-off lists are released over the coming days. But the difference in most cases when the final cut-offs are announced will be marginal. For a majority of students, this is the ‘heartbreak season.’ When the 2016-17 admissions close in DU, thousands of students with good marks, and a genuine interest in a particular subject, will face rejection. Young men and women, with school-leaving scores close to 90% will see themselves as ‘failures.’

But the failure here is of a system where the demand for higher education opportunities outstrips supply by far – not just in DU but in popular academic institutes across the country. This has a cascading effect with schools and students focusing on marks, and on rote learning, rather than providing an education which encourages critical thinking and creativity. The bizarre situation in which so many Class 12 children score a perfect 100 in subjects like English and History is also because the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) now favours objective-type questions. This year, about 90,000 children across the country scored 90% or above in Class 12.

As another admission season in DU comes and goes, many 18-year-olds will be told that there are other options, alternative career paths. This is all good advice, no doubt. But it doesn’t absolve the need to create more education and job opportunities for young people. Delhi badly needs more colleges. But so do other states so that students don’t flock to the capital for admission to DU. Private colleges also need to be encouraged as long as they ensure quality, reasonable fees and a fair admission process. And more policy focus is needed on opening institutes that provide technical and vocational education, so students don’t crash the DU website registering for a BA in Physics or Sanskrit when their aptitude lies elsewhere.

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