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No Delhi University, The Grading System Will NOT Work

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By Shweta Madaan:

One of the most prominent universities of the world, The University of Delhi (DU) has decided to introduce a grading system for both undergraduate as well as post-graduate courses. An expert committee has been formed to formulate this change from the academic session 2013-14. According to the representatives of this expert committee, the decision to introduce grading has been taken to make the semester system more effective.

grade

In most of the courses offered by the University of Delhi, the semester system came into the curriculum with effect from the academic session 2011-12 onward. From the very beginning, this move of the University was not welcomed with arms wide open. It created quite a furore in the academic world. For many days, classes did not take place because the DU teachers and students were protesting. One can easily judge the seriousness of this issue by looking into this outrage in past. Even, some of the political parties tried to convince the Human Resources Development Ministry to force Delhi University to discuss the issues raised by its protesting teachers and to not take coercive steps. Now, the university is going for new changes like the four year under-graduate degree courses, META University and the grading system. It is believed that they are also going to meet the same fate.

It seems that all these changes are being pushed through in undue haste. The teaching and academic community is opposing this move because the university does not seek their acceptance; neither are there any proper discussions nor any consultations. These measures have been introduced by the Vice Chancellor in such a flurry that his credibility is being subjected now. It is also believed that there is some hidden agenda behind such drastic actions. There are some statutory procedures and established democratic academic practices for implementation of new rules and policies related to academics but this hubbub is really subverting this set-up.

The students are also not pleased with the semester system. It is overburdening them and teachers and is affecting the university culture. Students are forced to cram because it is the only possible way left to outscore others. The syllabus is so vast that a student does not have any time to participate in extra-curricular activities. Yes, it keeps him/her focused on what is taught in class but at the same time the students who really want to try something new don’t get time for the same. In most of the courses, the syllabuses of the subjects which are meant to be studied in one year are now to be completed within six months. The teachers are struggling to finish the courses and even if they are finished, there is no time left for preparation. The colourful college life which is shown in movies now seems facetious.

Now, let us look into the effectiveness of grading system in colleges. In the past, when it was proposed for schools that a grading system would be followed, the schools were in dither. So, the University is now mulling over in following this system. The VC reported that a committee has been set which will look for the feasibility of implementation of this scheme. It has got the academic council’s approval which is the highest academic body in the university. The members of this core team say that this idea has been appreciated by all. But I do not feel that it is a good step. Grades do not accurately indicate how much a student has learned in a class. Grades do not keep the passion to excel alive. When one gets fewer marks in an examination, he/she can analyze in a better way the mistakes for which marks were cut; but with grades, you do not have the actual marks. (The grades are given according to class limits. For instance, the students scoring in the range of 91-100 will get A1; the students scoring in the range of 81-90 will get A2 and so on. Then, it does not matter whether the student is getting 91 or 100, he will get an A1.)

There are fears that if the students will really benefit from this system. It does not differentiate the truly deserving students and the lazybones. It overshadows the hard-work of students and discourages them because an average student is also getting same grades as of outstanding one.

The academics body says that after the implementation of this grading system, no student will be declared fail. But what is the point in doing so? You cannot loosen up the criteria. If this system gets implemented, there will be no strictness. The students will become complacent because they know that they will definitely pass. The authorities are also making a point that weak students get depressed when being reprimanded by their teachers; so, in this way, we can soothe them. But the reality is that it does NOT encourage the students to work hard at all. Many researchers, educators and parents are now questioning the purpose and effectiveness of grades. Certainly students deserve to know how they are doing and they benefit from understanding how they are performing; but the communication of this progress can have a great impact on how a student learns.

It is my opinion that grades do not motivate a student to perform better because if a student does not know where he is standing, how on earth will he try to improve himself? Students take it easy because their sole purpose becomes getting an A1 and they tend to learn the things just for this purpose. This type of learning is not worth of it. Instead, the students who get marks are more likely to want to continue exploring whatever they’re learning, more likely to want to challenge themselves, and more likely to think deeply. And, this is the main objective of education which must be imparted by the teachers to the students.

These systems are considered inefficient because teachers have raised a range of objections and some serious allegations have been made on the working of the University in making new policies. It appears completely undemocratic. The teachers are totally displeased owing to the formation of new systems without any discussion with them and without their acknowledgement. The University needs to act in a judicious way. There must be proper discussions and workshops before implementation of new policies so that the results of such systems can be learned effectively; and the students can hope for a promising future. As the University has decided that it is going to award grades rather than marks, there must be proper categorization. The differentiation should be made between good, better and outstanding performances so that the spirit of healthy competition does not get over and the quality of education remains maintained.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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