‘Academic Reforms’ through press reports
In a press report in the 2 April 2011 issue of Hindustan Times -‘DU to introduce new system to check answer sheets’ Professor Dinesh Singh, the Vice Chancellor, Delhi University, talks about the examination reforms which will be put in place from this session. Through this report he advances off the cuff proposals about number of papers in a possible semester based course, assembly line system of paper correction where number of papers corrected per day takes precedence over a scholarly and sympathetic evaluation of the students abilities.
DTF takes strong note of this type of functioning of the VC where instead of working through duly constituted standing committees and placing the issue in the Academic Council and Executive council for debate, ‘reforms’ are brought in through the press statements alone.
Similarly, in a press report on 3.4.2011 in the Indian Express newspaper, the DU Vice Chancellor, in violation of all laws, rules, regulations and conventions of DU, expounds his vision of a post-semester system DU. In doing so, he has not seen it fit to get the prior approval of the statutory bodies of DU such as the Academic Council (AC), Executive Council (EC) etc. or respect any of the conventions of the DU such as the general body of meetings (GBMs) of teachers. If he was acting in his individual capacity then he should have only opined on matters that come within his individual purview. It is clear that the DU Vice Chancellor is seeking to intimidate the DU community and compel them to fall in line with his pre-given positions.
In the same press report he is quoted as saying that: “ Singh has shared his vision about the implementation of the semester system. “Of the 24 papers being offered, each college department will be allowed to design and evaluate about four papers,” he said.” Where did the DU VC derive this authority to unilaterally determine the structure of a possible semester format? The roadmap of any reform has to be prepared by the statutory bodies of the University. University of Delhi has been created by Act of the Parliament. As per the Act, the authorities at DU are its Statutory bodies. In the case of semester system, no structure or roadmap of this proposed enormous change has ever been placed in the Academic Council.
Further in the same report he is quoted as saying, “As of now, college teachers have very little say in what they teach. This will be a chance for teachers, with expertise on a topic, to offer a paper about it”. College teachers did have a say in the entire teaching learning process because the DU convention of the GBMs of teachers was duly followed in the past. It is only now when the DU VC seeks to cast aside the views of the GBMs of teachers that they are losing their say in academic matters. Thus the DU VC has added falsehoods to his armoury of illegalities and intimidation in his quest to fulfil his pre-given task.
In the same light he has further expanded on his vision (unauthorised by the statutory bodies):
- a. DU VC says that absence of guidelines on how the semester system is to be implemented is a non-issue since departments are ‘free’ to design curricula. Falsehood again since any proposal has to be approved by the statutory bodies.
- b. DU VC tacitly bats for autonomy of colleges. He does not say that autonomy to colleges is a merely a prelude to commercialisation of education (self-financing courses, faculty downsizing etc.) followed by privatisation of education with clearly established negative consequences for national development.
- c. DU VC has also advanced off the cuff proposals about number of papers in a possible semester based course, assembly line system of paper correction where number of papers corrected per day takes precedence over a scholarly and sympathetic evaluation of the students abilities.
The DU VC has revealed his utter contempt for laws governing the functioning of DU and his anti-academic (pre-given) motivations. This top-down approach of imposing changes can never work well to bring about meaningful reforms. This approach is also to dilute the existence of the Academic Council and Executive Council.