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Here’s How FYUP Is Destroying Quality Education In Delhi University!

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By Gayatri Raghunandan:

How does the Delhi University administration respond to a query pertaining to the infamous FYUP? “There are other universities in Delhi, go there if you want to.” Shocking, but true. This is the response most of the questions about the roughshod implementation of the Four Year Undergraduate Programme have elicited from the DU administration during a recent meeting. At a time when students seek answers and reinsurance that what they might venture into, will not holistically sabotage their future plans, engineers of the FYUP have either taken to inordinate jargon or have sworn to secrecy. While the University is hurriedly passing the FYUP, growing protests among students and the academic circle are proving to be a strong opposition to the process. However, the University has shown no signs of rescinding the passage of the programme and has been showing great fortitude in the face of adversity, in its own twisted manner. As a student who has fortunately escaped the clutches of the FYUP by almost two years, I pity those who still perceive the University of Delhi to be the safest bet to quality education.

FYUP

The arguments posited by the University in favour of the FYUP are emaciated in number and riddled with loopholes. As a student who has experienced the semester system of education, which, nevertheless, has its own share of problems, the new system promises much more but is speculated to deliver almost zilch. During my first and second years of college, all of us were required to write a minimum of three assignments per paper in one semester. In the new FYUP, students will not be required to submit even a single written assignment! Instead, there will be one group class presentation per course. I heard from a few friends of mine that students have been spending an inordinate amount of time learning how to create new documents on MS Word and MS Excel! Pretty productive, is it not? No tedious written work might seem pretty relieving to the seemingly over-burdened self-proclaimed industrious student, but how will students acquire training in academic writing if they aren’t made to write papers in their under-graduate foundation course? To top this, the total number of teaching weeks in the new programme have been reduced to 14, from the previously 16 weeks in the old system. While there will be undue wastage of time in teaching mandatory school-level ‘foundation courses’(which have almost no relevance with the main course that a student wishes to opt for) for the first two years, very little time will be spent on the core discipline, owing to lesser number of teaching hours. Sources tell me that a question scrapped from the foundation course books includes, “Who is scarier? Santa Claus or a Vampire?” Activities in the foundation course involve watching movies such as Student of the Year and identifying famous filmmakers. Who wouldn’t want to take a few tips from a teen-drama/rom-com on how to deal with two buffed up stalkers in disguise?

While the University dangles a carrot for public consumption by stating that a student of the four year programme will be at a higher academic level than a three-year programme graduate, this argument falls short on factual evidence. In reality, the FYUP student will have to do 50 courses, out of which only 20 belong to her/his core disciplines! Hence, despite having an extra year, these students will have lesser knowledge about their core disciplines than a student of the three-year programme, where 75% of the courses are part of the core discipline. If this isn’t disheartening enough, exit options after two years, which are apparently ‘in the interest of the student’, award students with the certificate of an ‘Associate Baccalaureate’, which is neither a full-fledged degree nor a diploma. Contrary to the purpose it was supposed to serve, these students will not be eligible for employment in many fields. Why does the Vice Chancellor fail to understand that the students ‘dropping out’ after the second and the third year, will invariably be perceived by the job market as ‘drop outs’ of the FYUP? They will be regarded as students who could not survive the FYUP and will be scorned upon for their incompetence and insouciance.

As a student of the Three-Year semester programme, I can safely say that the system upholds the tenets of social justice and attempts to make education available to all strata of society. Low fee structures for courses and ample scholarships ensure that affordable education proliferates to students coming from all sections of society. However, the FYUP will place an increased burden of an additional year on students. This will undoubtedly discourage students coming from economically and socially disadvantaged backgrounds to carry on with their honours programmes. Ergo, they will instead choose the exit option of ‘dropping out’. These reforms will unequivocally negate the advancements of the past. Says Arundhati Roy, “They have taken the water and land and now they are taking the mind.” Many speak of a conspiracy hatched by the University Management to privatize higher education in India through the FYUP. This comment holds great truth when a few dissenting colleges in the University have begun envisaging a more privatized and autonomous future for themselves, by deciding to opt out of the University. Many others, such as CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury believe that there is a larger plan that involves changing the structure of education to accommodate western interests.

The University of Delhi is the largest Public University in the city and is obligated to provide affordable education to all and not pave the way for foreign investment. It is also interesting to note that the FYUP that the University is so hell-bent on implementing, violates the 10+2+3 structure mandated by the Nation Policy on Education (1986). Implementation is therefore, not possible unless the existing policy is amended. Only a year ago, the University was coping with the change from the Annual mode to the Semester mode. Now, we have a new system replacing the existing infant system. Teachers criticize the FYUP by stating reasons such as lack of infrastructure, hasty and unplanned implementation and have called it a ‘travesty to higher education’. It is time the administration of DU realised that the University’s role as a hegemonic institution of education is continuously being questioned. Change will not happen without bouts of acrimonious debate, that is, if the administration finally decides to give out some well-needed answers. If this fails to happen, the twisted logic used by them when they say, “there are other Universities in Delhi”, will eventually lead to the supreme relegation of an institution, once regarded the vanguard of higher education in the country.

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  1. Raj

    “There are other universities in Delhi, go there if you want to.” – That is exactly what the people and the students should tell DU and privatize DU. Let those lazy useless unionized slacking teachers get thrown out of their cushy seats and start doing a real job.

  2. Gayatri Raghunandan

    Privatizing is not the solution. The problem here is a persistent undemocratic environment that has facilitated messy and hasty changes to be implemented withut any proper thought!

    1. Raj

      There is no more democratic environment than the free enterprise market capitalism and there is no reason why it should not be applied to DU.One of the greatest tragedies of this socialist university regime is that it destroys the values of hard-work and productivity. Good teachers are resented by the lazy peers and will do anything to have them removed. DU currently subsidizes and encourages bad teachers!
      But in the free-market the good teachers are rewarded and allowed to flourish and those lazy parasites are squashed under the feet of the market, which will simply not fund their unproductive activities. How much more democratic do you want it to be?

    2. ghana

      When we talk about free enterprise market capitalism as a solution in education, then one is comparing education, a basic right for everyone, with some products. Education is not business.Those who have more,will get better education! And it will be a blunder to assume that free market capitalism is democratic, where money and power determine everything within four walls . Free market with the sole objective of profit encourages centralization and thus non transparency and accountability which is antithetical to democratic process.

      In India, where more than half of the population is starving, you are asking them to get education by paying money. Which means, depriving of their right.It is sheer ignorance fed elitism and lack of compassion for its fellow citizens and lest humanity when one is asking to privatize education. Is this the society one perceives ,where the world is divided, where money determines everything? Rich getting richer and more educated and powerful and poor getting more poorer and without education, they will have no other means to climb the social ladder. Since independence, this same public education (with scope for improvement) have served well to help the progress of society. The solution is not to blindly privatize education.If by any chance, private education is serving well in the US or any other countries, one must not forget the social reality. We need to know the social conditions of our society. One will not wear rain coat, because it is raining some where else.

      Further, there is no logical connection that public funded colleges and universities with subsidization encourages bad teachers. One must not dismantle the whole system because of some lacuna. The solution lies in the same democratic process, where transparency and accountability will aid the deserving and committed people to teach. Because of this lack of transparency, accountability and democratic process that one sees the blatant application of FYUP in the university. It is because of this that those in the power act according to their whims and fancies and appoint non committed persons to teach. It is because of this undemocratic process and lack of transparency that we as a society are rotting. The solution never lies with privatization and never will.

      What is the criteria of hard work and productivity? How will one calculate it? More Ph.ds? More Graduates ? Higher rank in ‘Times Ranking’? More jobs? More consumptions? More ‘developmental’ activities which leads to more environmental destruction for the same free market enterprise( though it is a wider but connected issue). All of us agree that it is desirable to improve the current education system, but one must know that without funds, and the said above prevailing situation, it is difficult to improve, and here lies the responsibility of our welfare state, to grant more education fund and make the whole system more democratic and transparent. Without engaging and debating and fighting for democratic process and transparency, it is difficult to improve the education sector and every other avenues. Privatization seems an immediate and easy answers albeit various short comings and pitfall (which will only serve the ignorance fed elite class which support free market capitalism based on greed) but short cut method without engaging and answering the current prevailing situation will bring a cosmetic change rather than a radical change.

    3. Raj

      – Do you think food is a basic human right? If so, why is the vast majority of the food production in India, in the hands of private farmers who are essentially capitalists, since they own the land, hire the labour and decide what crops they should grow? Or should we have collectivized Govt. farms like they did in the former USSR, which in the end had to import food from the West?
      And should food be available free for all, how much ever of whatever anybody wants? Don’t we currently pay for food with money? Should everything from wheat to meat to wine be available freely for everyone, since food is a “right” ?

      – Who made them poor and kept them poor? The socialist Govt.s through their rules and regulations, which has prevented the poor from starting their own businesses, prevented them from getting loans and prevented other private entities from starting-up and hiring them for jobs. Don’t blame free-market capitalism for those things.

      – The argument by socialists for Govt. failures is always the same “The bad people were in-charge”. Maybe it’s the system itself that is broken? Maybe it is this system which breeds mediocrity and prevents innovation since its employees gain nothing personally nor lose anything personally whether the system works or not? They take their salaries paid by the tax-payer not by the students who enjoy their teaching. If the students were paying from their pocket, you think they would continue paying bad teachers for decades like they have been in India? If everyone dislikes them , then how on earth do bad colleges and bad teachers stay in business for decades?

      – There is one thing no private enterprise can do but the Govt. always does : The Govt. puts a gun to your head and takes your money (through taxes, if you don’t pay up, you face the gun even in India and USA). The private unaided company can’t, all it can do is to serve you better and gain your business.

      – We must dismantle this welfare system which is actually the reason why we have so much of poverty and dysfunction in the society. The proper role of Govt. needs to be only to maintain law,order and justice. And nothing else is important. People are pretty smart and do co-operate in a voluntary fashion and produce prosperity. We see examples of those everywhere wherever we have a free-market capitalism.

      – Criteria of hard-work and productivity? By the standards of voluntary consent, by the standards of the market, by what it is willing to pay for. If Phds are in demand , then students will do Phds. If diplomas will suffice so be it. What quality of education is the market ready to pay for and at what price, that is the standard.

      – And what is greed? Are you talking about private individuals pursuing their self-interest? Can you tell me a society that does NOT run on greed? Communist China and USSR didn’t run on greed with its public servants acting in pure self-interest? Really?

      – Free-market capitalism give power to the individual who can choose to earn and spend his money by voluntary consent. Socialism gives power to elite bureaucrats who decide if you should earn any money, decide how you and they will spend your money, all this with a gun at your head.

    4. cijo

      you come from an ideology which is the ideology of the haves and the more you have the more you want. Please do point fingers at USSR and communist China, I have no problems. Yes they were not perfect systems, but please do not for one moment assume that this current system is the best and only one for us. When I see the chaos and havoc this system is causing to the enivronment, men, women and children (and here I am talking about the poor in india) I have to disagree with you.
      Do not naturalise ‘greed’, because it is not an inherent human condition; do not think that most of the people who live and labour do not work hard.
      Please move out of your ivory tower, and look at what is happening all around. I am not saying the government is not at fault. Yes it is, but why? because the government is not working for the people but runs on corporate interests.
      You say that USSR AND Communist China ran on guns, if so i think you should open your eyes and see the invisible guns which are put on all our heads. weapons are not the only dangerous things, the fears and insecurities which everyday people face because of this volatile system we live in, are also ‘guns’.

    5. Raj

      – Your belief in have and have-nots stems from a fallacy that economics is a zero-sum game. I believe in haves and more-haves. Welth is generated by everyone all the time. JK Rowling’s multi-billion dollar Harry Potter franchise was literally pulled out of thin air. She created those billions using her mind and little else.
      – Socialist systems have been even more cruel to the environment as Govt. enterprises can pollute all they want since the Govt. is the judge, jury and executioner. In free-market capitalist systems where private property rights are enforced, you have far lesser pollution because polluters get punished for damaging others property.

      – Why do the poor work hard? Is it not greed? Don’t they wish to better their lives? Is anything wrong with that?

      – I think you have mistaken crony capitalism for free-market capitalism. Crony capitalism is nothing but socialism for the rich. Maybe you should climb a little bit of that ivory tower and learn some terminologies

      – Of course! That’s my point! All Govt.s use guns to take your money as taxes. This is becuase we have given the Govt. a monopoly to use force. That is precisely why we shouldn’t depend on Govt.s for too many things and instead as private individuals improve our society. Because whatever the Govt. thinks and does, it is the final decider since it has guns. The more Govt. you have, the less freedom you have.

  3. gayatriraghunandan

    Are you insinuating that the teaching quality is better in private universities? I must tell you that from I come, the teachers are remarkable. However, they are severely handicapped by the curricula that they are made to prescribe to. You might just be making a generalization there. Also, remember that you will have ‘lazy peers’ everywhere. I don’t see the point in what is being said.

    Your idea of the privatization of education is a blatant violation of more than one democratic ideal, not to mention that the wording of your thoughts also portrays a graphically disturbing and undemocratic picture. The University of Delhi is a public institution for 10+2+3 education, as per the guidelines of the National Policy for Education. It was set up to provide the option of education to all. It was supposed to transform education from a luxury to available option to all. It is important to ensure that it serves the purpose it was made to serve. A university based on ideals of social justice does not necessarily discourage hard work and productivity. Do note that non-performing students still do fail examinations. Please go through my article for the debate privatization.

    I understand that the perspective you hold about slacking teachers is backed up by experiential evidence. It would be better if you would address this issue to the college management. That would help. However, privatization, as I have mentioned earlier, is not the solution.

    1. Raj

      Please note that I wasn’t talking just about privatization, I was talking about free-market enterprise serving the education needs of the country. Private institutions are severely handicapped by regulation made by the elite bureaucrats who in their arrogance think they should decide what is best for people. Privatization alone won’t help, the Govt. needs to deregulate the education sector and allow private players to serve the different needs of our diverse student population. Most courses offered by DU(and other Govt. Universities) are CRAP. Having lived in Delhi and interacted with DU students, I know for a fact that most students do not pursue the degree they set out with. People with BA in Psych often join event-management firms which have NOTHING to do with the 3 years they wasted in “learning”. The students paid by wasting their time; the tax-payer wasted their money subsidizing their irrelevant education. And the benefits went only to the lazy teachers who taught something that nobody was paying any attention to, took home their salaries and lived in comfort. Wouldn’t it have been better if these students could have taken some course directly relevant to the job/career area they were interested in?

      Now coming to bad private education institutes, who bears the losses of bad performance? As long as the Govt. isn’t subsidizing them, the loss is primarily by the private party that started the venture. 1 or 2 batches of students may suffer if an institute gives them lousy education but do you think people will keep joining and subsidizing such bad performing institute with the money from their own pockets? Not a chance! They will move to better institutes and get their money’s worth. This will enable the good institutes to flourish and get more funds.

      And let me show you how our current Govt. controlled education system is undemocratic and perverse. Who pays for it? The tax-payers, including the poor through indirect taxes on everything they eat, wear etc. . Who benefits from it? Mostly the middle and upper middle classes. Who gets the least direct benefit ? The poor. Why can’t we build more institutes for the poor? Because of all the point-less regulations by the elite bureaucrats who decide how many toilets a college must have. To illustrate take the case of private Delhi flyover schools.. ( http://www.tehelka.com/the-flyover-school/ ) But will those bureaucrats recognize such no-frills schools? Not a chance! Such private innovation is stifled by Govt. regulation, Is this mighty democratic that the elite bureaucrats will decide how and where you should study based on their whims and fancies? Don’t you have a choice?

      Sure the DU system was an experiment with noble intentions but as Milton Friedman rightly put it : “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

  4. Raj

    And the CPI along with Arundhati need to shut their mouths and realize that tax-payers money is not their money and they are nobody to decide what other people can or can’t voluntarily do. Their ideology has destroyed nations and societies and severely damaged ours as well.

  5. Mugdha

    I agree wholeheartedly with Gayatri. Isn’t it ridiculous that as a first year undergrad student of physics, I’m not learning some fundamental Chemistry, Maths & English but “utilizing” my time by learning “prime numbers”(BMA) & reading stories like “When trees Could walk”(Language, Literature & Creativity). What’s more we are supposed to give a project & presentation for each foundation course on topics like ‘On a map, plot ten towns which have now become big cities and discuss reasons for the same for two of those.’ They are going to take a major chunk of our time without giving us a true feel of what the subject is like nor increasing our employ-ability in the job market. the teachers are as clueless as we are and the books for group were out as late as first week of September with various modules of evaluation of students still doing round. Why couldn’t they have a properly delineated structure of FYUP in mind before implementing it?

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