DU VC bats for revolutionising higher education
New Delhi, Sep 7,2012 : Delhi University Vice Chancellor Dinesh Singh yesterday made a strong pitch for revolutionising higher education at the first-of-its-kind academic congress at the varsity, but his detractors called the two-day event an exercise of "fraud" to push for his radical reform agenda.
Singh and members of the Left-dominated Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) has almost always been at contrasting positions over the last few months, and even a large gathering of academics and researchers to discuss education could not make the two sides see eye to eye.
With the Leftist bodies of teachers and students sending out a call of protest against the Academic Congress, the day began with a notice from the Proctor warning the teachers against holding protests or disrupting the conference.
The notice said that the academic congress is purely an academic event that is open through paper presentation and is designed to encourage this and help improve the university for its students. "You are required to desist from the illegal activity that will disrupt the academic functioning of the University and damage the reputation of the university by disrupting such a prestigious event. "The university shall take strict action in case you go ahead with any disruptive course of action," it said.
The conference that was held amid tight security, meanwhile, saw tech czar Sam Pitroda and the Vice Chancellor himself, among others, calling for greater reform of the higher education model in the country and a "paradigm shift" in the way classrooms function.
DU's own cluster of innovation centre became functional last year and the varsity has this year rolled out a four-year BTech in humanity course with exit options at the end of II and III year, laying ground for a four-year undergraduate programme that the university is planning to introduce from the next academic session.
"The university is an 'idea' that needs to be developed in accordance with changing needs. An entire paradigm shift by redefining the way classrooms function and eradicating the burden of 'scoring a degree' is the need of the hour so that our students don't just study, but learn as well." Singh further stressed the need of inclusion of multimedia tools in the teaching methodology.
While the Vice Chancellor did not refer to the major reforms and new programmes he has personally taken an initiative in launching, but the protesting members of the teaching fraternity said the two-day conference was aimed at promoting and propagating the four year programme, they are vehemently opposed to.
The notice from the Proctor notwithstanding, the teachers' groups assembled to protest though did not indulge in sloganeering. The protesting members have alleged that the Vice Chancellor has gone about introducing new measures without regard for academic norms, statutory procedures and democratic practices. "The Academic Congress is a fraud on the university community and an attempt to manipulate public opinion.
"It is also the first time that on important academic issues, the corporate sector and NGOs are being labelled as 'stakeholders' and people like Sam Pitroda have been invited to inaugurate the congress. "These 'reforms' are part of the plan to facilitate entry of foreign and private universities to sell higher education for the highest profits," a joint statement from the protesting bodies said. "We are demanding a discussion of what happened to our other courses when this four year programme comes into force. We are demanding a comprehensive discussion," said DUTA Executive member Abha Dev Habib.