ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Who Will Educate the Educators?

While Delhi University is facing the wreckers' ball, the Ambedkar University, Delhi has become a viable, vibrant space of thinking and learning. The new political masters must simultaneously perfect the art of judicious intervention to save the former and the craft of withholding the temptation to interfere with the latter.

Recently, we had sobering news that as many as 98% of teachers who took the Central Teacher Eligibility Test failed in the attempt. This, after the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had already dumbed down the syllabus following the previous year’s dismal experience. Educationist Krishna Kumar pointed out that an agenda on education will hardly be visible (or audible) as long as the high decibel campaigns of political parties and news channels alike dominate our public life. But there is hope yet. The announcement in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Delhi specific manifesto (endorsing an earlier commitment of the Aam Aadmi Party – AAP) that it will save the students of Delhi University’s (DU) four year undergraduate programme (FYUP) from the “waste of a precious year” is timely and must be made more than an election promise for all parties. Regardless, that is, of who wins the polls.

The FYUP has now become a four letter word among many vocal students and anxious parents, who see no academic merit in the dubious “foundation courses” even as they are forced to pay for the extra year. (As I write this, an unsavoury skirmish between the members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and a faculty member has ended with the administration closing down the student union!) DU has given the term “gap year” a whole new meaning. It is not a year that a student voluntarily takes out from institutional life to reflect on possible roles she will play in our complex and challenging environment. It is a year that the institution compulsorily takes out of all enrolled undergraduates (and their parents), to produce a calculated, dangerous boredom. Now, with an eye no doubt on the votes from a publicly discontented student body, the BJP/AAP manifestos turn attention to the rapid changes that were introduced last year. This should give the mandarins of higher education a few sleepless nights. It also gives us an opportunity to ask a few questions about the goals and achievements of higher education in contemporary India.

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