Guest Post by Sanjay Kumar
In February this year, University of Delhi officials invited chairpersons of the six best known colleges to apply for autonomy. So far, only the governing body of St Stephen’s College has reacted, authorising its principal to take up the application process. Teachers and staff associations of the university, DUTA (Delhi University Teachers’ Association) and DUCKU (Delhi University Karamchari Union), are against the move. Besides affecting the working conditions of faculty and staff, college autonomy has bearing on the academic content of undergraduate learning. It is surprising that many of the academic red flags are not even noticed in the policy. These obvious blind spots indicate that real motivations are not academic, but lie elsewhere.
The XII plan document of the UGC sets the target to make 10 percent of eligible colleges autonomous by the end of the plan period. It boldly declares, ‘(t)he only safe and better way to improve the quality of undergraduate education is to the link(sic) most of the colleges from the affiliating structure’. The claim is surprising, because world over university education is considered a good undergraduate education. A university with active research, accomplished faculty and diversity of subjects to offer is the best place for a young person to get initiated into the adventure and challenges of higher education. How taking students away from the ambit of a university becomes the way to better education requires a bit of an explanation. Continue reading Elephants in the Room – Who Gets the Autonomy in Autonomous Colleges? : Sanjay Kumar
Guest post by FATMA M. KHAN
After three years at the Delhi University, I have been disillusioned with a lot of things. But one thing which never ceases to surprise me is the tireless effort put in by a lot of you to create something better. It is often against the system, against the apathy of the students, against the examinations which reduce texts to regressive questions. This is for you.
This is for the teachers who hated the FYUP programme, but still tried hard to create meaningful project topics for the foundational courses out of the juvenile textbooks we had, not caring about the extra correction this created for themselves. This is for the teachers who went out of their way to conduct thought-provoking discussions on “Integrating Mind, Body and Heart”, a course which had no marking. Continue reading An Open Letter to the DU Teachers from a DU Student – I Stand with You: Fatma M. Khan
I have received letters from some of you, especially final year students, expressing your anxiety about the likely delay in results caused by the evaluation boycott protest of teachers, and appealing to teachers to withdraw this particular form of protest.
Let me assure you that we are equally keen to get back to evaluation and to work overtime to bring out your results at the earliest. In fact, this is not a form of protest we would have embarked on had the situation not been so devastating. You would have seen in the last three years, we observed a one-day strike only once when services of two teachers were terminated, preferring alternative forms of struggle even during the grimmest of battles such as those over theSemesterisation, FYUP, CBCS, debilitating administrative corruption, no permanent appointments, violation of Constitutional provisions of reservation, denial of promotions, a draconian Code of Conduct to suppress dissent and extreme forms of victimization. Continue reading An Open Letter to Students from DUTA
MUKUL MANGALIK in raiot.in
The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) General Body Meeting (GBM) held on May 28, 2016 issued an appeal ‘to all students to support our struggle’ against the University Grants Commission (UGC) Notification 2016. The resolution passed by the DUTA GBM of June 2, 2016 ‘extends thanks to Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) for its support’ and to many other students’ organisations ‘which have expressed support for the ongoing struggle’. The DUTA Executive, in keeping with the letter and spirit of the sentiments expressed by successive GBMs invited representatives of teachers and students’ unions and organisations, including the JNUSU, to extend solidarity with the ‘khaali thaali’ (empty plates) dharna (sit-in) organized by the DUTA on 6th June outside the UGC compound. A section of Delhi University (DU) teachers did their best to prevent Kanhaiya Kumar, elected President of the JNUSU, from speaking on this occasion…
In trying to deny a student even a chance to speak, they have gone against everything that teaching should mean; in seeking to throttle words, speech and ideasinstead of countering them with other words, speech and ideas they, as university teachers have struck a blow against the freedom of expression that is the lifeblood of universities. They have gone against the idea of universities as potentially life-altering sites for students, places that encourage them to ask questions and speak freely; to read, write and think critically, analytically and with academic rigour, together and independently, in the endless pursuit of understanding and truth; to debate, disagree with, and discuss everything of consequence without fear of any forms of authority or power, but with respect for universal rights, ‘in the hope of creating a future in which liberty and human freedoms might be grounded in citizenship based on substantive equality’…
Let no one imagine that this moment of contestation in our history will spell political doom for the DU teachers’ movement. It shall not. If anything, we are likely to come out of this with an even stronger resolve, holding up a brighter flame of hope to all teachers and posing a more invulnerable front to Capital and State than has been the case thus far.
Read the whole article here.
This is a guest post by ASWATHY SENAN
Researchers all over the country are protesting the move by the UGC to scrap the non-NET fellowship and students have gathered in hundreds to resume their agitation at the UGC office through OccupyUGC. it appears that one should be clear about what the student reaction means: it is much more than as a demand for monetary benefits. The student mobilization happened after the committee that met at the UGC office in Delhi to discuss and increase the non-NET fellowship, decided to scrap it. Following the protests that lasted through the nights from 21 October, the Minister of Human Resources Development tweeted that the fellowship shall be continued leaving out one crucial detail: its availability to new students. This decision to end all financial support of researchers doing their MPhil and PhD until they qualify NET or JRF is a huge threat for the research community in India as this is a clear move to professionalise research and make it a mere add on to teaching career. Continue reading The Move to Professionalise Research: Aswathy Senan
Guest Post by Sujata Chandra
The University Grants Commission has issued a set of ‘Guidelines on Safety of Students On and Off Campuses in Higher Educational Institutions‘ in April 2015, which is beginning to be discussed recently by students and faculty in many universities and higher educational institutions (HEI). They begin by discussing the height of walls and kind of barbed wire that are needed to ‘fence’ in higher educational institutions. But the most disturbing thing is the kind of walls and barbed wire they seek to install in the minds of students.
The ‘Guidelines’ feature a number of problematic provisions in the name of assuring a ‘safe and secure learning environment’ for students. These provisions, if implemented, will simply assert the state’s notion of morality and end up transforming students into submissive entities. The vision of ‘students’ in these guidelines is that of infantile beings who require ‘permission’ from authority figures (university administration, law enforcement officials and ‘parents’) at every stage of their life on and off campus.
One of the key provisions relates to the necessity of setting up police stations within university campuses. The presence of police forces within university campuses can only have a ‘chilling effect’ on student life, especially with regard to the quality of political activism and discussion. Universities are meant to be spaces of liberty and autonomy, and the presence of policemen on campus does not bode well for either. One can clearly envisage university authorities asking students to obtain ‘police permission’ to hold meetings, protests, screenings and simple gatherings. Ostensibly, the presence of a police station on campus is supposed to act as a deterrent to sexual harassment and sexual violence. Continue reading UGC Guidelines on the Safety and Security of Students in Higher Educational Institutions – Protecting Students or Building Walls ? Sujata Chandra
Guest post by SAROJ GIRI, continuing the discussion on roll-back of FYUP in Delhi University.
Earlier posts on this issue are listed and linked to here.
Here is one way to make sense of the core issue at stake in Delhi University today – this piece by Nandini Sundar arguing that the UGC directive amounts to hampering institutional autonomy of DU.
But this is a flawed position in the present context. It conflates the autonomy of DU with the autonomy of the VC. It construes DU’s autonomy in narrow institutional terms, overlooking the larger movement of teachers and students which is also ‘DU’ and which has consistently opposed the FYUP.
Sundar suggests withdrawal of the UGC directive, the setting up of a DU committee to overhaul the programme, and deliberation in the Academic Council, this time taking proper heed of anti-FYUP views. But do we need a fresh round of discussion on the pros and cons of FYUP?
Absolutely not. For there have been tons of deliberations over the FYUP. Just go back to the minutes and records of the many different meetings and Committees, or recall the many demos and dharnas. There is ample evidence of deliberation where the members of the University have given sound reasons why the FYUP is bad.
Indeed, the picture presented that it is the Ministry or the UGC imposing its diktat from above is simply not true. It is not some committee in the UGC or Ministry which on their own have decided to stall the FYUP. For it is force of the movement against FYUP and the many, many voices active since the last few years who have prevailed now – it is this which is reflected in the UGC directive. Continue reading Collective struggle strengthens autonomy: Saroj Giri
It seems the unthinkable has happened – the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University has resigned over the UGC’s pressure to withdraw the Four-Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP). I won’t go into the debate on the FYUP, which has been covered extensively on Kafila and elsewhere . See particularly this post by Professors at the University. I am only interested in two issues that arise from the news coverage of the event as it has unfolded through the day.
One, the question of autonomy. Prima facie, as Apoorvanand and Satish Deshpande have argued comprehensively on Kafila, the resignation of a VC over pressure from the UGC seems to be evidence of bureaucratic or ministerial over-reach. Questions have been raised (rightly) over the timing of this pressure, coming as it does on the heels of a political shift of colossal proportions at the national level. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (I find myself in agreement with Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari’s language on this) to figure out that the change in Delhi University has political backing. For one, rollback of the FYUP was on the BJP’s agenda/manifesto – that is as political as it gets! Second, it was this very UGC that had been so coy about commenting on the FYUP for the past one and a half years, a coyness that amounted to tacit support. Only very recently had it moved its mammoth bureaucratic feet on the matter, constituting a committee to look into complaints from students and teachers that had finally reached its mammoth bureaucratic ears. The VC, being well acquainted with elephants, would be able to explain the mammoth temporality of this apex organisation better than any of us, having benefited from it for a goodly amount of time. Even after the constitution of the committee, the VC continued to be lauded by the UGC for his efforts at implementation of former HRD minister Kapil Sibal and his successor Pallam Raju’s efforts at radical educational reform. The committee met at a leisurely pace, no doubt fortified by several hundred samosas and robust air-conditioning in the UGC’s Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg office in central Delhi, while anti-FYUP protestors enjoyed the blazing sun or freezing cold outdoors, as they had been enjoying for a year and a half.
Continue reading Autonomy for what, from whom, and for whom?
पिछला एक हफ्ता भारत के शैक्षणिक समुदाय के लिए, खासकर उनके लिए जो किसी न किसी रूप में दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय और विश्वविद्यालय अनुदान आयोग से जुड़े रहे हैं, सामूहिक शर्म का समय रहा है. यह अकल्पनीय स्थिति है कि आयोग एक सार्वजनिक नोटिस जारी करके किसी विश्वविद्यालय के पाठ्यक्रम में दाखिले की प्रक्रिया के बारे में निर्देश जारी करे. आयोग ने दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय के स्नातक पाठ्यक्रम में दाखिले के सिलसिले में अभ्यर्थियों को कहा है कि वे विश्वविद्यालय द्वारा विज्ञापित चार वर्षीय स्नातक पाठ्यक्रम में प्रवेश न लें. उसने विश्वविद्यालय प्रशासन को फौरन यह पाठ्यक्रम वापस लेने और 2013 के पहले के पाठ्यक्रम को बहाल करने का आदेश दिया है. उसने विश्वविद्यालय के सभी कॉलेजों को भी सीधे चेतावनी दी है कि उसका आदेश न मानने की सूरत में उन्हें अनुदान बंद किया जा सकता है. किसी विश्वविद्यालय को नज़रअंदाज कर उसकी इकाई से उससे सीधे बात करना अंतरसांस्थानिक व्यवहार के सारे स्वीकृत कायदों का उल्लंघन है. व्यावहारिक रूप से यह दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय का अधिग्रहण है.यह भारत के विश्वविद्यालयीय शिक्षा के इतिहास में असाधारण घटना है और सांस्थानिक स्वायत्ता के संदर्भ में इसके अभिप्राय गंभीर हैं. Continue reading स्वायत्तता की फिक्र किसे है? अपूर्वानंद, सतीश देशपांडे
I do not exaggerate. I am not being hasty. The writing is on the wall. What started as a glimmer in the eyes of the IIC-frequenting bureaucrat, the industrialist with profit-making dreams and the politician with an obscenely large government house in Lutyens’ Delhi is now a raging reality. Pick up any newspaper or magazine and check out the number of advertisements for private universities. Do a google search for the latest news reports on committees on higher education. If you have the time and patience, go through all the government documents on higher education in the past five years, almost neatly coinciding with the exit of Arjun Singh as Human Resources Minister and the entry of Kapil Sibal. Speaking of Mr. Sibal, if his cheerfully unapologetic blundering on the 2G scam is anything to go by, we should have an idea of the kind of subtle and layered approach he has in mind when he speaks of ‘reforming the education system.’
Continue reading It’s Here, The Privatisation of Higher Education In India
(To translate for non-Hindi speakers, “teachers…unions…what nonsense is this, my friend?)
Terrible translation, but you get the gist. Those who have spent any time in Delhi University will immediately recognise the picture I paint now…imagine a long-haired, loose-jeaned youth of about twenty, casually lounging against a wall, sipping a banta (lemon soda) and occasionally scanning the horizon for that pretty girl from his business studies class…his friends will agree, “teacher-veacher union-shunion, kya bakwas hai yaar?” These are serious students lets assume, with dreams of MBAs post-graduation and eight-figure salaries. One of them might then say, “Mittal sir, he is the best, yaar; he never goes on strike, and his notes got us first divisions.”
I mean lets face it; as stereotypes of the teaching profession immortalised on screen we have the hot teacher (Main Hoon Na, and millions of others – usually involves a seemingly prim woman suddenly taking her glasses off, and shaking her bun open in slow motion), the radical teacher who inspires his students to question the system (Dead Poet’s Society), the truly inspiring teacher who turns students’ lives around (To Sir With Love) and the cool teacher, who is the students’ best friend (too many to recount). But the teacher who is an employee, joins a union and goes on strike?? Continue reading Teacher-Veacher, Union-Shunion…Kya Bakwaas Hai Yaar?
The Yash Pal report argues for autonomy in higher education, both from the state and from private commercial interests.
It is only appropriate that the report of the Yash Pal Committee on higher education is being discussed by the Central Advisory Board On education ( CABE) before being implemented. The Yash Pal Committee makes a very bold appeal for the revival of the state universities and asks the planners to bridge the huge gap that exists between them and the centrally created universities. One can only hope that the state ministers are not daunted by the report’s call to grant real and substantive autonomy to the centres of higher learning. Such autonomy would effectively mean leaving educational matters to academics and cessation of interference by the ruling party or ideology of the day, not only in matters like selection of vice-chancellors and faculty but also curriculum and syllabi.
Continue reading Yashpal Committee and The Future of Ideas: