FYUP: wrong attempt at reforms
Unlike all other reforms done earlier in the history of Delhi University (DU), including the structural changes affected in the past, FYUP seems to have demanded DU to observe much greater caution and much wider debate among its stakeholders since it was apparently targeting to question and redefine the aims and objectives of our education system itself. Besides a complete overhauling of the structure, nomenclatures and the increase in the duration of the courses directly implying increased cost burden on students, it has also attempted to simultaneously enforce new methodologies in teaching and evaluations.
The inevitable failure of FYUP in achieving the much claimed and over hyped results was destined primarily due to the sheer scale and dimensions of changes on which it was attempted at and also as it was done in an inexplicable haste through limited consultations ignoring all voices of genuine concerns and without paying attention on engaging themselves in preparing DU for this misadventure.
The University is now at the cross roads only because the VC and his team had confined themselves into a den built only to echo their own sound, concerns and opinions for them and thus making them completely isolated, irresponsive, unapproachable and unreceptive to ideas from any other perspective. Not that everything was bad in FYUP but the main frame on which it was constructed needed an immediate relook. The forced implementation of Foundation Courses was wrong but what was even worse was that they refused to accommodate genuine concerns demanding replacement of these papers with something that was more involving for the students and more acceptable to the teachers. Four-year in itself was not that could have faced rejection but diluting the same honours degrees that were earlier of three-year to of four-year durations was indeed worth rejection. Not that having four-year B.Tech. course was bad but not stuffing the syllabus with the contents that any normal B.Tech. student anywhere in India would have encountered made even this part of the reforms worse. In their flawed and failed attempt at reforms, with the end of FYUP they are leaving this University in a state of such a shock wherein it will take some time to prepare this university to sensibly respond to any fresh attempt.
To make FYUP a success DU seemed to have failed even after exhausting all ammunitions such as luring students with laptops, withholding permanent appointments, not releasing the second tranche of teaching posts that were duly sanctioned by the UGC at the time of OBC expansions, over-utilising funds to establish and expand the FYUP supporting structures such as ILLL, CIC and also by distributing Innovation Projects, awarding teachers who supported their efforts and arm-twisting those who tried to raise voices of concerns.
To conclude, the FYUP experiment with the future of our students was a nightmare for this university. To force a change of this scale without proper involvement of teachers, deliberations with the educationists, without inviting widespread suggestions from academicians and above all without any
sensible attempt at preparing the University for the same (infrastructurally and otherwise) made the situation worse day by day. Instead of showing any sign of settling on its own, the implementation continuously kept on propping up new challenges almost daily, as no discussion was ever encouraged on FYUP’s several logistical contradictions. And to make it worse, the remedies offered for those new problems in the form of another imposed solution had made it so unbearable that only a rollback could have saved this university from a complete breakdown. A fresh attempt at the reform is due for a large time but it needs to be done only after adequate deliberations.
I would sum up the entire avoidable series of events more as a complete administrative failure than merely as an inadequate attempt in the structure, the contents and the intents of reforms. It only calls for a research to explore and know how reforms should not be attempted at. One must learn from these misadventures and also from a similar change that HongKong has brought about successfully in their education system in 2012 after spending 6 years in discussions and preparations.
The author is associate professor in Physics at Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi