Dr. Manmohan Singh, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA
Mr.Pallam Raju, Minister of Human Resource and Development
Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, UPA
As alumni of Delhi University, we would like to convey our shock and dismay at the academic 'reforms' and the manner in which the Vice Chancellor, Mr. Dinesh Singh is bringing them about.
We have strong objections to the attempt to introduce the FYUP without due process and consideration of the enormous adjustment costs and implications such a move entails.
We also feel strongly about curtailment of democratic spaces within the university, which is supposed to be a cradle of democratic thought and action.
We note with great anguish that the university is being viewed as a machine for generating job-ready graduates, without due emphasis on education as development of critical thinking, not degrees-for-jobs.
Having been through the 3-year degree program, we find that the FYUP is academically extremely weak. Numerous extremely qualified and experienced academicians and intellectuals have also pointed this out repeatedly. However, their objections have been continuously ignored. The 3-year degree program, albeit not free of its own problems, gave students an opportunity to have a thorough knowledge of the subject of their choice. It gave a chance to grow with the subject and have an in depth insight into the world of the subject by the end of the three years.
The FYUP has sacrificed academic quality at the altar of creating a work force, and we fear that this will turn DU into a vocational university as opposed to one that gives students from all walks of life an opportunity to gain an education. The proposed course structure seems to merely touch upon several subjects without letting students have a thorough understanding of any and in the four years, the students will be studying less than what we did in our three.
Several 'foundation courses' have been introduced to help students gain a wider knowledge base. However, this only will lead to them not having a sound knowledge of any of the subjects that they touch and go. This dumbing down of the curriculum will only result in dumbing down of the students that graduate out of the university. The entire structure of the course is very rigid, one that does not provide any choice or flexibility and hence, defeats the entire claim of the VC of being otherwise.
The Vice Chancellor, at every stage of enforcing this 'reform', has ignored the various protests made against this imposition by students and the faculty - people who have dedicated their lives to bringing up generations and shaping minds.
While we recognize that the education system in general and the university in particular have problems that need to be addressed, we feel strongly that the current methods are nothing short of strong-arm tactics to silence any disagreement with the framework that is being handed down as a fait accompli.
We are shocked to learn that hired bouncers are on the prowl in campus with the intention of curbing any kind of dissent. It was even more distressing to hear that private security roughed up and manhandled a senior professor of the university when he tried to ask the VC a question at SRCC.
When we were students at the university many of us were disturbed on seeing the growing use of muscle and money power in student politics, but what seems to be happening now is that the university administration itself is using muscle power to force its decisions on students and teachers, an anathema to the idea of consensual and democratic decision-making.
It has also come to our notice that ad-hoc teachers participating in protest demonstrations are photographed and later victimized. This is in gross violation of our constitutional right to protest peacefully.
We wonder what kind of University is being created where any kind of dissent and debate is being curbed using strong-arm tactics. How can such a university ever produce critical-minded students?
So many shortcomings and problems with the set of measures being presented as reform have been pointed out, we list here some of the most egregious and worrying issues that we strongly urge you to consider:
1. Over 60% students in the university are economically weak. An additional year’s fees (and other costs including rent, food, books and study materials) will only add to their burden.
2. The exit points after the second and third years look very much like an attempt at weeding out weaker and poorer students. This does not help to create an inclusive and enabling University system.
3. Pursuing higher education for a large majority of women in this country is already a challenge. Keeping in mind this social reality, it is possible that women students will be forced to shorten their academic experience in DU, made easier by the exit point provided in the proposed FYUP. This will only add to the discrimination that they are likely to face in the professional sphere.
4. Most blind schools in India do not have facilities to teach Maths and Science after Class 8. It is unclear how these students are then expected to cope with these subjects as part of the 11 compulsory foundation courses being proposed.
5. Students in India already opt for specialization in school after Class 10, when they choose between Humanities, Commerce and Science. Forcing them into 11 compulsory foundation courses which include subjects that they’ve already elected to drop in school seems illogical and poorly thought out.
6. The University seems grossly ill-equipped to handle the added burdens from the FYUP. For instance, 50% of the teachers in the university are ad-hoc. How can a continuum of any kind be attained between students and teachers if teachers will be continuously rotated (as is the current practice) from one college to another. What incentives will ad-hoc teachers have to invest in their classes and students if their jobs are under constant threat? How will the University attract talented teachers without offering an attractive teaching environment?
As concerned citizens and alumni of Delhi University, we urge you to seriously pay heed to our objections and intervene to stall the Four-year Undergraduate Programme till it is reviewed, made more equitable and acceptable to the students and teachers of Delhi University.
You can sign petition here