Millennium Post

Universal woes

Even though the roll-back of the controversial Four-Year Undergraduate Programme, which was implemented in the University of Delhi about a year back, now appears imminent, there are too many loose ends to be tied up within the academic community. Although the University Grants Commission (UGC), after instruction from the HRD ministry, sent the ball into DU’s court and asked it to review the course structure, what hasn’t been addressed is the deeper malaise that the manner in which FYUP was thrust upon India’s biggest university in the first place hides. That the entire exercise was more or less driven by the current DU vice chancellor, who has refused to pay heed to UGC’s decision on FYUP as well, bespeaks the kind of authoritarianism that is becoming the norm in university settings in this country. Not only is FYUP in violation of the national ‘10-plus 2-plus 3’ pattern of secondary, senior secondary and tertiary education, it is also an ill-designed and ill-executed programme, with extremely shoddy courses, particularly those in the first year of the four years.

    The general state of lawlessness in India’s foremost centre of higher education is a foreboding of worse times to come, unless it is brought under control immediately. For that, just rolling back of FYUP wouldn’t be enough: we need to initiate a larger drive to restore the lost credentials of top universities and not allow entities with vested interests to hold them ransom. While it is important to ‘modernise’ and upgrade the course structure from time to time and be in step with the rest of the world, it should be done in qualitative measures, not by a cosmetic and utterly ineffective makeover. Superimposition of the American model on a colonially-inherited system of education without diluting the robustness of the courses would never work. It is revolting to witness the FYUP bandwagon, whether for or against, transform into a gravytrain, which even the student wing of the Congress, the brain behind the programme itself, are now jumping on to. In this brouhaha, what must not be made into a sacrificial goat is the future of an entire batch of students who started their college life under FYUP.   
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