Thursday, May 21, 2015

General Body of History teachers of Delhi University unanimously reject Government's Choice Based Credit System (CBCS)

Resolution Adopted by the GBM of teachers of the 
Department of History, University of Delhi

The teachers of History, in The General Body Meeting held on 16/05/2015 in the Department of History, Delhi University, discussed the issue of CBCS and syllabus making. The house decided to reject CBCS and disassociate itself from syllabus making as per the letter from the Jt. Registrar, for the following reasons:

1. Among the proposed reforms is the introduction of a common syllabus for all Central Universities in India; a common entrance test; faculty and student mobility; and credit transfers.  The justifications offered for these sweeping changes are enhanced employability, skill development and seamless nation-wide mobility for students.  The teachers believe that the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) is part of a larger scheme of things imposed by the University under direction from the MHRD/ UGC starting with the semester system. While there is no denial that Higher Education in India is marred by grave drawbacks and requires serious stocktaking and the resolution of long-standing issues, standardization, homogenization and centralization, especially with respect to syllabi and evaluation, cannot be accepted as one-step solutions for all the problems. They may in fact, end up seriously degrading the quality of Higher Education, creating more problems and becoming a prelude to the complete takeover of universities by the state and the logic of the market.

2. The uniform course structure and syllabi run counter to the diverse socio-cultural realities and learning needs of our people spread through varied regions.   Each university possesses a unique culture and specific history and has developed its own pattern of knowledge production and reproduction.  This homogenization would stand in the way of innovative pedagogic practices and incorporating new courses based on emerging issues. While higher education must have a strong global component, it must also address the local—for example, the geology/ history/ art/  ecosystem/ literature of the locale in which the university is situated.

3. CBCS is a systemic change which is being pushed by the UGC and MHRD without discussion with the primary stakeholders, i.e. teachers and students on the desirability, feasibility and long-term implications of such a systemic change. This is being done with ever greater recklessness and hurry without even a semblance of respect or concern for academic practices, intellectual integrity, departmental and university autonomy, democratic rights and the culture of informed and fearless debate so central to the core life objectives of any university; the cultivation of respect for equality, difference, liberty and justice together with the capacity to think critically and analytically. 

4. a) The decision to implement CBCS was taken in the AC, through an item under “Any Other Matter”. No discussion was allowed. All elected members present dissented against the decision. No structure was proposed or put up for consideration.

b) CBCS cannot be considered as passed by the University because it has still not been tabled in the EC and no Ordinances have been passed regarding it.

c) For such a major systemic change, statutory bodies like Staff Councils, Committees of       Courses, Departments and Faculties should have been consulted.

d) The latest letter issued by the Jt. Registrar (dated. 29.4.2015) instructing Deans and HoDs to have syllabi framed on the basis of the structure displayed on the UGC website bypasses the EC and also the AC which never approved such a structure.

5. Though the CBCS claims to allow greater flexibility and choices to students, acute shortages of physical infrastructure, faculty and staff impose disabling limits on the colleges and departments.

6. The “Cafeteria Approach” of CBCS in offering a basket of courses will lead to academic dilution and commercialisation of higher education.

7. The UGC Notification on “Minimum Course Curriculum for Undergraduate Courses under Choice Based Credit System” mentions fluctuation of workload as a disadvantage but does not elaborate on its adverse consequences. Fluctuating workloads adversely affect post-creation and regular employment in every subject, thus increasing the proportion of ad-hoc and guest teachers without any job security or benefits, and institutionalising a policy of ‘hire and fire’.

8. Syllabi are always framed and evaluation always done by teachers who are integrally involved in the teaching of the concerned courses. The specific advice given by the Delhi University administration to examine the syllabus uploaded on the UGC website on the other hand, does not take into consideration this basic, yet fundamental issue.  On the contrary, it gives sanctity to the imposition of syllabi by a faceless body that exists outside the University of Delhi structure. This is unacceptable in terms of the statutes, ordinances and the Act that govern this university guaranteeing autonomy to its functioning.

9. The History Department is already in the process of revising the syllabus since November, 2014. A large number of college teachers have participated in the process and are involved in framing a blueprint. It is expected that this will now be taken up by a number of sub committees which will involve many more teachers. Hence, the General Body of teachers strongly feels that there is no need to participate in the process of syllabus framing as per the letter of the Joint Registrar since the syllabus uploaded on the UGC website is already obsolete.

10.The GBM resolves to unanimously reject the CBCS related changes being thrust upon DU and all other Central Universities of India, while simultaneously expressing the urgent need to engage  holistically  and democratically with the multiple crises facing Higher Education in the country.

Proposed by Dr. Bhupinder Chaudhry                                                                   
Seconded by Dr. Surendra Kumar

This resolution was adopted unanimously

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