Smriti Irani's next: Common syllabus for Central Universities - Alternative Media Forum


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Sunday, 10 May 2015

Smriti Irani's next: Common syllabus for Central Universities

New Delhi,Rohinee Singh:Be it the premier Jawaharlal Nehru University, Aligarh Muslim University or the Banaras Hindu University, all will have common syllabus, come next academic session.

The academicians feel that the uniform syllabus system will distort the individualistic character of the varsities.

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani is pushing hard the idea, first mooted by her party veteran and predecessor Murli Manohar Joshi during the term of NDA-1. There is stiff opposition to the proposal as well, but the HRD Ministry is set to decide the syllabi at undergraduate, postgraduate as well as research level.

The sceptics see the new syllabi system, dubbed as the 'choice-based credit system' (CBCS), an attempt to saffronise the education sector. "During NDA-1, the HRD ministry pushed for teaching karma kanda from Gita and Vedic Mathematics in the college curriculum. It was opposed because universities decided their own curriculum. "The government now aims at first disabling the universities from making own syllabus and then roll out its agenda," alleged proffesor Aditya Misra of Delhi University, who had led the protest against Joshi.

The academicians feel that the uniform syllabus system will distort the individualistic character of the varsities.

"Universities are centres for creativity, thinking and innovation. What UGC and HRD are coming out with should only help in setting a minimum standard. But it should not govern the overall education system of every university," said professor GC Tripathi, Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University.

Tripathi also questioned the CBCS for interfering with the autonomy of the universities. "Central varsities are governed by own constitution and cater to the local needs of the area they operate in. The CBCS needs to ensure that the local characteristics of the universities are protected," he added.

The universities have also raised issue of faculty and infrastructure. The HRD ministry announced introduction of CBCS in November last year and wants to enroll it in the coming academic session that begins in June-July this year.

"We are open to the new system as long as the system does no harm to the autonomy of the university system," said Aligarh Muslim University Vice-Chancellor Lt General Zameer Uddin Shah. Shah, however, opposes the pace at which the system is being implemented. "The problem is that we need time to implement CBCS. We need to review faculty and infrastructure, so that we can roll out the changes," he added.

The University Grant Commission (UCG) has been at the helm of affairs to develop a common curriculum. Experts, however, feel that drafting the syllabus is not the prerogative of UGC. "The constitution of UGC does not permit it to draft syllabus. The whole exercise is in violation of the UGC Act," said Prof Apoorvanand Jha, scholar at Center for the Advanced Study of India.

Jha, who also teaches Hindi in Delhi University, questions the lack of transparency in the UGC's functioning. "The UGC has hand-picked the faculty for drafting the curriculum. Even the central universities are not aware about people behind the syllabus," he said.

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