The red carpet has been rolled. Our guinea pigs have arrived once again with the same old naivety, helpless and careless, with no hint of what the future holds for them, as they walk in through those huge iron gates. Timid and fragile, these newbies to the happy world of college sit as clueless as our masters.
The Choice Based Credit System hit them hard. No jokes there.
Well, countless questions can be raised on this ‘cafeteria approach’ to education. Did our dear government try to soothe the old wounds of Mr. Dinesh Singh, Vice – Chancellor of the University of Delhi, by just trying to pull another FYUP [with slight difference of course]? If FYUP had to come back in the form of CBCS, was its rollback a very political move on the part of our HRD ministry? Was its implementation in such haste really a necessity or could our government have given it a year’s worth of thought? Most importantly, will the students really benefit out of this nimble programme as it promises they would?
With the commencement of the new semester on 20th July, the dilemmas of the teachers as well as the students have surfaced. Students have sought admission to a course without prior knowledge of the gains they will reap out of this pet project of our HRD Minister who was the kingpin in the rollback of the FYUP curriculum. Teachers, similarly, are baffled and perplexed about the course structure and the syllabus.
The Choice Based Credit System has promised to be as different as it can be. It is aimed at the globalization of education and taking India at par with other institutions from around the world.
The UGC guidelines say two things about the CBCS–
- “The choice based credit system provides a ‘cafeteria’ approach in which the students can take courses of their choice, learn at their own pace, undergo additional courses, and acquire more than the required credits”and hence, the system is desirable.
- The grading system is considered“better”and “desirable” because this will facilitate student mobility across institutions within the country and across other countries, and also enable potential employers to assess the performance of students.
We know, the current system of education does not impart skills that would make the students adequately employable. Though I agree that interdisciplinary approach is the need of the hour in Indian colleges, why such haste? The CBCS needed more in depth deliberation. It was something which could have waited for a year or so. Presently, the evaluation process too is based on rote learning and recalling. The students need to be able to think and analyse on their own. With more group work, field work, data collection and community involvement, CBCS will definitely have an edge over the pre—existent semester system. But isn’t this what the FYUP was all about?
With the grading system now in place, merit based admissions to masters courses across India shan’t be valid anymore. This will give rise to competition and pressure synonymous with the IIT entrances. Though it shall ensure equality, it will give rise to the coaching culture for further entrances and many students will miss out on going to college in order to give in their best for the preparations.
With the inclusion of multiple additional courses, honours degrees and programs shall be reduced to a mere vocational course. It will be an attempt to lure students away from hard work and seek ‘efficiency’.
According to the CBCS, a student will progress by course rather than time. Credits will be earned in accordance with the labour of the student and the best part is that they can do it at their own pace. This flexibility is very important in today’s world. This system will allow the recognition of learning and also enable a student to put his interests first. This is the true idea behind CBCS.
But these systematic changes need to be well thought, debated and discussed among all the stakeholders for them to be efficacious. What the policy makers do not realise is that the consequence of such hurried implemented change may lead to further degradation of education in India. After all what worked for USA may not necessarily work for India. Instead of adopting these ready made changes, our government needs to think out-of-the-box and stop aping the western civilizations.
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.