Newsletter, August 2008

Unscientific Approach to the Sciences

The BSc Progam

The problems with the course content and structure of the B. Sc. Program have been evident ever since it was launched in 2005. The exam results of the past years – with a very low pass percentage in many colleges – and the media coverage forced the authorities to look into the Program. The course was modified by the administration in the month of January 2007-08 for the current batches as an interim solution.

The past academic year 2007-08 should have seen a more serious effort by the authorities to revise the Program. The Departments initiated the process only in the month of February. Teachers across colleges, however, participated enthusiastically in this much awaited process.

The Vice Chancellor called an AC meeting only on 12 July 2008 where a revised syllabus with some minor structural changes was passed. The AC, however, did not approve the VC’s idea of implementing the revised Program for all three batches from this very year.

Moreover, though the authorities claim that the revised syllabus is what they received from the Departments, teachers of the life sciences departments are at a loss because the revised course is not what they had worked on.

What has come as a bigger shock to the teaching community is the hasty manner in which this revision has been implemented. In an unprecedented manner, a revised Program has not only been implemented for the first year but also for the existing batches in the second and third year. This will have serious academic implications, for instance, the current third year batch will not study ‘Electricity, Magnetism and Electromagnetic Theory’ throughout the Program. The paper has been shifted to the second year in the new scheme. Additionally, the changes will require redoing the time table in a major way.

The whole episode is another example of the authorities’ increasing disrespect for statutory bodies (AC, Committees of Courses, Faculties) as well as of their utter disregard for the teaching community in the name of improving academic standards.

We have the examples of the B.Sc. Program and B.Sc. Maths where the teaching fraternity was kept out of the revision process and the statutory bodies subverted through Empowered Committees set up on the whims and fancies of the VC.

Discouraging Science Research

The role of the University in promoting research by college teachers has been more than negative. This is particularly so in the sciences. The Departments do not extend any infrastructural help to the college teachers, nor welcome any collaboration. In spite of this many college teachers have been able to get large grants through proposals to various funding agencies like UGC, DST, CSIR etc. and generate infrastructure in their colleges. The University, however, in its scheme of things, does not give accreditation to such labs and refuses to assign Ph.D. students to college teachers.

Such tendencies are not only discouraging for the college teachers but are also severely detrimental for improving research. How can the quality of research improve by excluding the large resource of scientific and research talent present in the colleges?

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