University of Delhi,
Delhi – 07
Sub: Appeal for the redressal of S.O.L. students’ grievances
We, the students of the School of Open Learning (SOL), protested today so as to register our protest against gross discrimination as well as the grave difficulties we face as students of Delhi University. We urge upon your office to take cognisance of our grievances and take steps to address them in the earnest.
Contrary to popular conception, the distance learning mode (SOL) student community does not consist primarily of those who wish to pursue studies part-time. In fact, a majority of students studying through the distance learning mode consists of those who wish to study in regular colleges but are forced to enrol in the correspondence mode because we do not get admission in such colleges. Most of us end up enrolling in SOL because we cannot get past the outrageously high cut-offs of the regular colleges. In such a situation, it is the duty of the University to gradually try and ensure that an increasing number of such students are properly incorporated in regular courses, but unfortunately, the policies of the University have not been moving in this direction at all. As a result, there is a tendency towards informalisation of education for an increasing number of students.
School of Open Learning students are facing a number of problems:
School of Open Learning is running in an extremely informal and ad-hoc manner. The personal contact program has been almost ineffective because the classes are few. It is one of those rare educational institutions where closure of classes before completion of the course is a norm. The classes of second and third-year students have been provided merely 20 days of classes for completing a syllabus which is as lengthy as the syllabus of regular college courses that gets completed in 180 days.
In addition to the problem of less number of classes, the problem of a dearth of classrooms also haunt correspondence students. Jampacked classrooms are the reality of almost all study centres of School of Open Learning. Around 200 students jostle to find a place in an average classroom in the study centres of SOL. It is very shameful that even in 21st century India, in many study centres, students are forced to sit on the floor, window, corridor.
Every year the result of correspondence students of SOL are released after the admissions in postgraduate courses like M.A., M.Com., LL.B., B.Ed. etc. are already over not just in various regular mode departments of Delhi University but also when admission for postgraduate courses are over even in SOL and thus closing all the doors of higher education for them. It is very surprising that SOL is not even accountable to its own students. At least, the postgraduate admission procedure in SOL should start after the results of undergraduate courses in SOL are released.
While the course curricula in the regular colleges have been improved multiple times in last few years, the course curriculum has not seen any improvement in the last many years. The study material provided by SOL is dismal with substandard writings on a few randomly selected topics.
There is rampant absenteeism of teachers in the study centres of SOL. In addition to rampant absenteeism, there are rising cases of late reporting and general lack of work ethics among SOL teachers. Due to such irregularity, there are cases where teachers cover the same topic more than once, making students lose interest in the subject. There is also cronyism in allotment of PCP classes to teachers. We wonder if any guideline or norm is followed in the recruitment of teachers for the PCP classes.
We are much alarmed by the recent reform measures announced by the University as they threaten to further aggravate the already existing gulf between the regular and distance learning students. We suspect that the semester system, choice based credit system etc., which are being feted as measures that would increase the worth of the regular courses, would further decrease the value of distance learning courses that are already considered redundant and of lower quality. It is clear that the interests of SOL students, who far outnumber the regular students of the University, appear very low in the list of priorities set by the university. We protest against this elitist bias on part of the University administration which plans all its reforms from the point of view of the regular students only.
We are also vexed by the humiliating treatment meted out to correspondence students of SOL by the University administration. The general behaviour of the University staff towards us is extremely insulting. Democratic rights of students to express their views, organise themselves (for example, through the distribution of pamphlets) are openly flouted at study centres. Security officers, security guards snatch pamphlets, disperse meetings and intimidate students. Security guards do not allow boys and girls students to even sit in the lawns.
Moreover, at a time when there is so much talk about abolishing discriminatory treatment toward women, it is incomprehensible as to why there are separate centres for boys and girls. We protest against the retrograde and misogynist presumption that boys and girls must study separately.
Despite the fact that the number of students in the School is much larger than regular colleges, the number of courses offered to us is too few. For example, even such common courses like B.A. Honors in History, Hindi, Economics, and Sociology etc. are not made available to us. The study material is outdated and is highly rote-oriented. The Library facility, too, is utterly inadequate.
Moreover, there is no provision for extra-curricular activities like sports, theatre etc. for SOL students. For students desirous of pursuing post-graduation courses through SOL, too, few seats are available. We are absolutely clueless as to why there should be a cut-off/elimination process in the distance learning mode which was introduced to make quality education available to the broadest possible masses. Unfortunately, the cut-off system and competitive exams are on for all M.A. courses now.
We believe that it is unjust on the part of the University to condemn the majority of its students to informal education (Distance learning mode).
Our immediate demands:
1. The classes of SOL students should not be closed before the completion of course.
2. SOL students should be provided regular classes till exams.
3. Ensure the results of students come on time and the admission procedure in DU should not be started before the result of SOL students gets released.
4. At least in SOL, the postgraduate admission procedure should start after the results of 3rd-year students of SOL is declared, so that correspondence students get a fair chance of admission in postgraduate courses.
Our long-standing demands:
1. Build 80 new colleges to accommodate all distance learning students in regular courses.
2. Accommodate all SOL students desirous of pursuing education through regular courses in regular colleges through the ‘sitting’ system, till the time new colleges are built.
3. Take measures to bring parity in the degree of SOL and Regular Colleges.
4. Give library facilities, access to ECA, sports etc., at par with the regular students, to all SOL students accommodated in the regular colleges.
5. Ensure bus pass facility to all SOL students for all routes. University authority must write to DTC to ensure the same.
6. Till the time SOL students are given admissions in regular colleges, improve the quality and frequency of Personal Contact Program and ensure that all students are given high-quality study material.
7. Increase the number of classrooms in PCP centres of SOL.
8. Organise co-ed classes and end the system of separate study centres for boys and girl students.
9. Independent enquiry in the procedure through which teachers get recruited for PCP classes in SOL. Take appropriate measures to end absenteeism, late reporting of teachers.
10. Take measures so that democratic rights of correspondence students are intact.
11. Admission process of no post-graduation course should be completed before the publishing of SOL results.
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