#India – Website to help SC/ST students #mustshare


 

RANCHI: To create awareness among SC/ST and OBC students about ongoing scholarship schemes in all the states, as well the Centre, a website (www.scstscholarships.com) was launched by the Aryan group of colleges in the state.

According to the website’s developers, around Rs 6,500 crore is disbursed annually by the Union government to all the states that gets diverted due to lack of awareness the students.

Dr Anshu Kataria, chairman of the Aryan group, said, “The objective behind launching the website is to make the students know about their rights. Due to lack of understanding about the schemes many students fail to avail the benefits of these scholarships.”

He added that there are more than 6 lakh SC/ST students in Bihar and Jharkhand who are ignorant about these government schemes and are not getting their benefits owing to which the funds lapse.

Scholarships are to fund higher studies after Class X. Several of the scholarships come in also for students who want to study abroad.

Kataria said former IPS officer and Team Anna member Kiran Bedi was associated with the Aryan Group of Colleges and she came up with the idea to start this kind of a website that will help students about the schemes.

 

BMC – Keep Off Privatising Education #mustread


Vol – XLVIII No. 23, June 08, 2013 | Anand Teltumbde,EPW

Today it is the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s decision to privatise its schools, tomorrow it may be the resolution of all the other municipalities of the country.

I am grateful to Simantini Dhuru and Prachi Salve for sharing data which they obtained under the Right to Information Act, as also the Mumbai Shikshan Kampanikaran Virodhi Abhiyan, which is fi ghting against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s decision to privatise its schools.

Neo-liberal policies have not delivered on any of their promises. Indeed, they have aggravated India’s age-old problems of inequality, unemployment, caste and communalism, to name a few. Yet, the ruling classes hold them up as a proven panacea. A key neo-liberal policy thrust is the release of services, traditionally provided by the state, to private capital. The state, in turn, uses its might against those who feel the heat of this transformation. The public utilities and infrastructure are now largely in private hands, and the state has turned its attention to education, the most critical instrument in the social transformation of any society. The process has been underway in higher education and now the rulers have begun to deva­state school education, particularly for the downtrodden strata. A decision taken at the beginning of this year by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to hand over its schools to private parties, this within the framework of the much-flaunted public-private partnership (PPP) model, is a case in point.

Auctioning the BMC Schools

BMC, the richest municipal corporation in India, provides free education to nearly 4,00,000 children enrolled in around 1,174 schools with 11,500 teachers imparting education in eight mediums. Besides, BMC runs 18 schools for the mentally challenged and 55 Mumbai Public Schools offering education in English medium. The BMC spends around 8% to 9% of its income on education; its planned spend this year is Rs 2,342 crore, 65% more than the previous year. Its expense per student at Rs 36,750 for its schools is among the highest in the country. The number of students attending BMC schools has been falling over the years. It fell from 4,20,440 in 2007-08 to 3,85,657 in 2011-12. It is the poorest of the very poor who send their children to BMC schools. Even the
so-called class IV employees, for example, sweepers and helpers working in BMC schools, do not send their children to these schools. Mumbai, the so-called “Urbs Prima of India”, the first city of India, accounting for more than 33% of the nation’s tax collection and the highest per capita income of Rs 65,361 in the country, more than twice the country’s average of Rs 29,382, has more than four million people earning less than Rs 20 a day. It is these people mainly belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes (SCs/STs), Other Backward Classes, Muslims and Christians who send their children to BMC schools.

On 23 January this year, the BMC, without consulting the parents of these children or the teachers in these schools, the major stakeholders, decided to auction its schools to private bidders under the euphemism of PPP, admittedly based on studies by the World Bank and Depart­ment for International Development (DFID). This is the first time in the country that a constitutional entity has decided to renounce its constitutional obligation and hand over its schools to private parties. Nonetheless, it had a nice sounding objective of giving an opportunity to poor children to get higher quality education with the support of organisations that had a record of “excellent work” in the educational field, charitable trusts and private companies.

The schools are to be auctioned to well-established corporate houses that would enter into memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with entities that have been recognised for their work in the “technical or educational field”. The process would be managed under the existing MoU bet­ween the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and BMC for conducting the “School Enhancement Programme” (initiated by UNICEF and McKinsey & Company since 2009, and having non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Akanksha, Aseema and Nandi Foundation on board). Neither the BMC provided any reasons for its failure to impart quality education nor did it provide any justification for its assumption that the private partner, with dubious credentials, will accomplish what it could not despite being experienced for more than 125 years. It has not even taken contrary evidence available through its own experience of the running of one of its schools by an NGO into account. For instance, a school run by Akanksha, important enough to be on the Board of the School Enhancement Programme, in the Cotton Green area of Mumbai, was found to have only one qualified teacher to teach the classes from one to eight. It basically drew its teachers from its Teach India Project, under which employees of companies took a sabbatical of a kind to teach in schools.

Private Profits at Public Cost

The PPP as a concept is not new but as a model serving the object of privatisation without public resistance it is to be attri­buted to the genius of neo-liberals. It only requires the state to rehearse its concern for the development of the down­trodden and plead lack of resources and failure to attain productive efficiency. The main selling proposition beyond the paucity
of resources is that the private sector
is intrinsically efficient. PPP has been pop­ular with rulers all over the world as it facilitates the transfer of huge public resources to private hands with contractual sieves that leak significant benefits to them. PPP has become a default vehicle for most infrastructural projects in recent years. In India, the PPP first appeared in the election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)/National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 1999. The NDA government had formed a committee in the office of Prime Minister Atal Bihari ­Vajpayee to apply the PPP model in various fields. Later, this committee was transfer­red to the Planning Commission. In 2004, when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) came to power, the same committee continued to function and submitted its report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In September 2007, Manmohan Singh, while presiding over a meeting of the Planning Com­mission, declared that initiatives at all levels of education shall be through PPP. Since then, in the Eleventh and Twelfth Five-Year Plans, there has been a rush of corporate houses, NGOs and religious organisations to grab public assets in the educational system.

The charity of the state in favour of private players includes grant of lands either free or at hugely subsidised rates, grants for building infrastructure, subsidised provision of electricity, water and bus service, exemption in income tax, payments of fees of students belonging to the SC/ST category, huge opportunities for outsourcing, etc. There is no evidence yet of any expertise being marshalled by the private players to whom huge public assets are devolved. The value of the BMC’s 11,500 schools, for instance, could easily run into thousands of crores of rupees.

Private education has been around in the country for years but whatever islands of quality education that exist have all been in the public sector. The overwhelming presence of private institutions could not produce a single institution to match the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institutes of Management, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Jawaharlal Nehru University or the University of Delhi. In the neo-liberal din, it is not even admitted that until the early 1970s, quality education was associated with only government institutions. It is only with the advent of increasing competition in politics that the academic autonomy of the schools was breached and they became subservient to the political bosses. These very BMC schools were famed for quality education and have produced scores of illustrious people. J B G Tilak of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi, after analysing the plan for setting up 2,500 model schools in the PPP mode under the Eleventh Plan, has rightly concluded that notwithstanding the claim that PPP is not privatisation and the promotion of the profit motive, the plan will surely promote the opposite – privatisation and a high degree of commercialisation, albeit with a difference, namely, with the utilisation of public funds (The Hindu, 24 May 2010).

No Tradable Service

The neo-liberal juggernaut has reduced what were once public services into trad­able commodities. It sees education as a tradable service to transform raw youth into wage labour as a feedstock for its ­capitalist machine. But pedagogy is too hallowed to be treated as such. Universally, education is regarded as an instrument of social change. Our founding fathers saw education as an equaliser and sought to include it among the fundamental rights in the Constitution. Unfortunately they could not do so and education remained confined to the area of Directive Principles (not legally binding on the state). Nonetheless, they had stipulated a time limit of 10 years to accomplish education for all children up to the age of 14. Our rulers however disregarded it until they were shaken up by the Supreme Court judgment in the Unnikrishnan case in 1993 treating education as a part of the fundamental right to life vide Article 21. But the so-called right to education they passed in 2009 is only trickery; it violates the spirit of the Constitution by excluding the most vulnerable children between 0 and 6 years and legitimises the multi­layered educational system. Rather, in view of the alarming degree of malnutrition of pregnant women, the state should be obligated to provide healthcare so that no child is born with an inborn handicap.

The first Education Commission (1964-66), the Kothari Commission, had obser­ved that realisation of the country’s aspirations involves changes in the knowledge, skills, interests and values of the people as a whole. This is basic to every programme of social and economic betterment of which India stands in need. It made a profound observation: “If this change on a grand scale is to be achieved without violent revolution (and even then it would still be necessary), there is one instrument, and one instrument only that can be used, Education.” It envisaged free and compulsory education through a common neighbourhood school system for all children following in the spirit of the Constitution. Even if this simple dictum had been heeded by the rulers, many of India’s evils would have been overcome. I will argue that if the state had ensured that no child is born with the handicap of malnutrition and every child received the same education, there would not have been the need for reservation and thereby the constitutional castes.

Today it is BMC; tomorrow it will be the entire country. We must say a firm no to the privatisation of education.

 

Maharashtra – Kids of transgenders, sex workers don’t need father’s name for school admissions #Goodnews


, TNN | Jun 4, 2013,

MUMBAI: Transgenders and those in the flesh trade will find it easier to educate their children. In order to make the admission process hassle-free for kids from such sections of the society, the state government has instructed schools not to insist on father’s name and address proof for such children during school admissions under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Last week, a government resolution to this effect was issued by the school education department.

“Under the RTE Act, it is mandatory for all private educational institutes to give admission to the children of sex workers and transgenders as these sections of society are also included in the mandatory 25% reservation for the poor and backward class children,” said a senior government official.

School education minister Rajendra Darda said, “Every one in society has the right to get education. The education department is committed to the effective implementation of the RTE. Accordingly, the GR has been issued by the department for the marginalized sections of society.”

Seema Sayyed, manager, Aastha Parivar, a federation of sex workers working in Mumbai and Thane, welcomed the government’s initiative. “Sex workers don’t get the benefit of any government scheme as in most of the cases, they do not have any address proof. Now with the DF government issuing a GR, which categorically states that schools should not insist on father’s name and address proof, it will benefit a large number of our community members,” Seema Sayyed added.

However, gay rights activist Ashok Row Kavi said that by issuing the GR, the government’s responsibility does not end. “The administration will have to ensure that kids from these sections of society get proper treatment in educational institutes,” Kavi added.

 

Rethinking Development In Pakistan


Flag map of Pakistan

 

 

 

By Q. Isa Daudpota

 

25 May, 2013
Countercurrents.org

 

Trickle-down economics invariably fails in poor countries. For long-lasting progress, development policies that are bottom-up, those that ‘put the last first’, often succeed. Ideas supportive of this thesis are presented in the post-election Pakistani context.

 

Good development experts have failed to get across a basic truth to Pakistan’s politicians and economic planners: If you are on a dirt road, fill the ruts – don’t dream of bullet trains and flyovers! One has to get the basics right before anything else can work. This obvious fact failed to register with the government and the Election Commission as it set in motion the recent ballot-box democracy exercise, allowing law breakers of all shades a free hand in returning to parliament. They overlooked the fact which every cook knows: clean the pans before preparing fresh meals! For those undaunted by this recent failure and blessed with an optimistic spirit, a potpourri of home truths is laid out.

 

A poor country like Pakistan cannot have sustainable development without reducing its population significantly through enlightened family planning. (It is best not to use the euphemism ‘developing country’, which we were in the 1960s when an attempt was made at population control.) How can we get back on track? A global perspective will help.

 

About 3 million children in poor countries die annually of diseases that can be prevented by basic healthcare and vaccination. The cost of providing a package of basic vaccines to a child is about Rs. 3000 – the price of a good meal in a luxury hotel. Pakistan has about 3% of the world’s population of 7 billion. Therefore roughly 250 kids die here daily. What’s the cost of avoiding these deaths? Just the price of one lavish wedding reception daily! And as for the basic healthcare for all, nothing is more important than providing potable water through community outlets, which is easily affordable.

 

Enlightened education, particularly of females, that encourages critical thinking is another key area needing urgent attention. Attempts at improving higher education level over a decade have overlooking the more critical lower levels where irreversible damage is presently done to impressionable minds. Education when viewed holistically should integrate all levels of education, including informal education, which brings the adult population up to steam and encourages lifelong learning. But who is going to do this?

 

The standard of pedagogy at all levels is poor. This failing can be corrected by a nationwide program of teachers’ training, principally in English communication skills. The world’s knowledge will continue its exponential growth in this language and we need to build on our advantage in English from the colonial era. Shortage of master trainers will require importing talent and where better to find it economically than India. Even more important is the provision of fast internet access nationally in neighborhood community cybercafés — that double up as cultural centers.

 

Large-scale provision of inexpensive multi-media projectors in institutions would allow students to view off-line programs of the best teachers globally with the local teacher acting as a facilitator. Our teachers and professors should use them as role models, while weaving the knowledge from the Net into the Pakistani context for their students. Above all we need a rethinking of the curriculum across the board, cognizant of the amazing range and quality of knowledge now on the Net.

 

Pakistan’s radio and TV are largely news and entertainment outlets than need redirection towards worthier goals of enlightening, lifelong learning. The models of the BBC in the UK and PBS and NPR in the USA – live and on the Net – can show us how this can be achieved. Such tools of the new media will help achieve full literacy in the country faster than the mere 5 years that it took some South American countries to do so using the ideas of Paulo Friere.

 

I conclude with brief reference to three commonly voiced concerns: energy, human and environmental security.

 

Instead of lurching forward into dangerous technologies such as nuclear and coal, we need to focus on our natural abundance of sunshine and hydropower (about which much has been written). While wind technology needs exploration, the area calling for immediate implementation is solar thermal, i.e. direct capture of heat energy from the sun’s rays to turn turbines for power generation – an option cheaper than wind energy. It has the advantage of our engineers accomplishing this largely themselves. At the other end, appropriate technologies such as green roofs (or simply oil painting or installing reflective high insulation tiling) could cool our homes and reduce cost, as can improving efficiency of industry, vehicles and other energy guzzlers. Some complex problems have cheap, simple solutions, see: http://tinyurl.com/kg4ows4.

 

Human security issues require that we establish not just peace but cordial relations with India, Afghanistan and Iran and open our borders to free exchange of people and commerce. Let’s be honest and admit that Kashmir cannot be snatched from India – ask the experienced retired general under house-arrest in his farmhouse in Islamabad [Musharraf]! Money for wasteful military gadgets can then be diverted towards human development.

 

Human security would be best advanced by providing decent livelihood to the poor and disadvantaged — gimmicks such as the expensive Income Support Program will fail. What are needed are low-cost projects which provide employment and honorable income for the multitudes of unskilled and uneducated, coupled with literacy and skills training. One such project ought to be for countrywide reforestation – green cover is well below 5% of the land-area; it ought to be at least 5 times higher. The environmental and social benefits of it would be enormous.

 

Publicity-attracting expensive mega-projects have been dear to our leaders. The real skill of wise leaders, though, lies in generating a sense of self-worth among the citizens. Ensuring self sufficiency through transforming the country from the bottom up is the way. The new government must take up this challenge.

 

The author is an Islamabad-based physicist and environmentalist.

 

 

 

Say goodbye to the Delhi University you knew


The proposed four-year undergraduate programme will stratify society even more effectively than the current system
G. Sampath, Livemint
http://www.livemint.com/rf/Image-621×414/LiveMint/Period1/2013/05/24/Photos/dinesh_singh–621×414.jpg” />
A file photo of Dinesh Singh, vice-chancellor of Delhi University. Photo: HT
Delhi University (DU) is in turmoil. Vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh wants to scrap the existing three-year undergraduate degree course and replace it with a four-year undergraduate programme from the academic year starting July 2013.
A large number of faculty members and students are opposed to the very idea of converting to a four-year system. An even larger number are upset by the haste and secrecy with which the vice-chancellor is pushing through far-reaching changes in the curriculum.
It would be misleading, however, to see the proposed change as a manifestation of one man’s hubris. Singh’s endeavour is an important but still minor sub-plot in a larger narrative of transition, both within and outside the university. The central theme of this narrative is privatization.
Traditionally, in higher education, there has always been a clear demarcation between the two kinds of higher education: vocational training, which equips you with skills for the job market, and a broad liberal arts education that equips you with competencies so you can function as a politically mature citizen in a functioning democracy.
What the Delhi University vice-chancellor’s mutant baby, the four-year programme, will do is to jumble up the two and spit out quarter-graduates, half-graduates and almost-graduates who will have no option but to join some private institution or the other to skill themselves up into employability. Unless, that is, they are happy to be the bottom feeders of the labour pool.
As a DU lecturer pointed out (he did not want to come on record for fear of reprisals from the academic henchmen of the friendly neighbourhood vice-chancellor), the biggest impact of the proposed system would be a two-fold stratification—within academia and without—along class lines.
The internal stratification will be achieved through the “exit points”, which many DU academics have termed “social apartheid”. Basically, a student can opt out of the four-year programme after two years with an Associate Baccalaureate, or after three years with a Baccalaureate (the equivalent of a pass course). To get an Honours degree, you will have to spend a fourth year in college—one more than at present—which will obviously cost more money. In other words, the most important determinant of an Honours degree is your paying power and not merit.
The DU lecturer explains this with an example. “Let’s take two students, A and B. A is poor but brilliant. B is rich but academically weak. In the current system, A can get admission into a three-year Honours course on merit. If she can rustle up the tuition fee, at the end of three years, she will be an Honours graduate. B, given her low percentage, will simply not get admission into a DU Honours course. If she wants to do an Honours course, her only option is to do it in one of the expensive private universities by paying a few lakhs.
“But in the proposed FYUP (four-year undergraduate programme), both A and B will get in. Given her financial and other vulnerabilities, it is very likely that A will opt out after three years with an inferior degree, while B will emerge with an Honours after four years, thanks to her financial staying power.”
The new model will thus stratify society even more effectively than the current system, which is already a stratifying tool, heaping more privileges on the privileged, which universities generally tend to do (a phenomena well documented by sociologists such as Pierre Bourdieu). That was internal stratification.
Once these pseudo-drop-outs (or drop-outs-with-certificates) go out into the real world, they would obviously not be able to compete for opportunities with those who completed the four-year course. They would thus become the next lot of subalterns in the knowledge economy. And the elite would enjoy the benefit of a legitimizing ideology—university-certified merit—to justify the widening economic disparity and their own entrenched privileges.
All said and done, education is the most powerful tool for social mobility available to a citizen today. It is therefore the responsibility of any nation that believes in the ideal of an equitable society to make this tool available to every citizen. It was this vision of education as a social good that inspired independent India’s first National Education Policy, based on the Kothari Commission Report of 1966. But contemporary India’s ruling elite seems less interested in social equity than in securing its privileges for succeeding generations.
So there is a simple reason for the haste and secrecy, not to mention the climate of fear that has marked the preparations for the DU vice-chancellor’s introduction of the four-year programme: it will not survive a process of democratic debate and pedagogic scrutiny.
DU is probably one of the few public universities left in the country today that can give private universities a run for their money. It represents the best of the old regime. Its continuing pre-eminence lends credence to the argument that a state institution can deliver quality education on par with global standards of excellence. Therefore, as was done with Air India, it is necessary to destroy it in order to make a watertight case for handing over higher education to private capital. Why else would you add an entire year to an undergraduate course, increase the workload on teachers, overburden the exam infrastructure to breaking point, and yet refuse to fill the 3,000 odd vacant teaching posts, or invest even a wee bit on university infrastructure?
The vacant teaching posts will be filled, if at all, and infrastructure will be improved, if at all, when DU welcomes private investment, if at all – not before. In the meantime, as the four-year programme unleashes chaos and confusion, as it will, the best of the faculty and students will abandon DU and migrate to other alternatives, which will be—no points for guessing—private universities.
Recently, I was surprised to discover that two eminent sociologists who I was used to identifying as DU academics are now faculty at OP Jindal Global University and Shiv Nadar University, respectively. I’m sure there are sound reasons—and academic ones—why they found DU less attractive than these private universities. But it should surprise nobody if, over the coming months and years, the best of DU’s remaining academics—including all the Marxists—follow suit, and end up at one or the other of the private universities.
Of course, all this makes eminent sense from the perspective of the market. After all, how can DU get away with charging Rs.16,000 or less for a course that a private university might sell for Rs.2 lakh, and that too with faculty far less distinguished than DU’s?
Once DU is taken care of, it would be much easier to replicate the academic mutation in the rest of the state universities. DU’s agitating teachers are battling not a misguided, authoritarian vice-chancellor, but the larger agenda of privatization, of which he has made himself a convenient tool. As things stand, the odds are in favour of the vice-chancellor and against the survival of DU as we know it.
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#India – Disastrous Consequences of Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) of DU


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 Delhi University, a premiere public funded central university, is a coveted higher education institution for millions of students across the country for itsaffordable high quality education. This status of Delhi University has been seriously threatened by the forced and mindless implementation of the FYUP by the DU VC Dinesh Singh. In spite of serious concerns raised by numerous noted intellectuals and teachers about the academic and pedagogic flaws of the FYUP, the VC has remained intolerant to all concerns and has repeated the rosy dreams and false claims of “employability” flexibility” and multidisciplinary approach” of the FYUP. It is high time we make an honest factual assessment of the dark reality lurking behind the false claims made by the FYUP because it is the students who will suffer from these changes in the University.

It is significant that ALL the established decision-making and course-making norms of DU have been bypassed in the unseemly haste to push through the FYUP. The FYUP goes against the National Curriculum Framework – but such a major change is being bulldozed through in spite of the opposition of the most respected educationists and academic voices of the University and the country. And the VC who is projecting himself as a ‘flexible modern reformer, is so scared of debate that he took pains to systematically deny the DUTA any venue inside the University to hold meetings and GBMs on University premises! A new low for campus democracy was reached on 12 May when the venue for the DUTA GBM in a college was cancelled at the last minute.       

How FYUP adversely affects the lives of Students

1.     To get an honours degree the student will have to bear the financial burden of an extra year. The VC sheds crocodile tears for the economically deprived sections but conveniently forgets that thousands of students are forced to spend an exorbitant amount of 10-12000 rupees per month in food and lodging over and above the college fees while studying in DU. With the FYUP, students will have to bear this extra amount for another long year for a degree which students from other universities will complete in three years.

2.     The students’ entry into the job market will be delayed by a year and the DU 4 year graduates will lose the precious opportunity of appearing in competitive exams for a year.

3.     Since FYUP is at variance with the National Curriculum Framework of 10+2+3, students emerging from DU with 2, 3 and 4-year certificates will face serious incompatibility in proving “equivalence” while joining other courses, institutions and Universities.

Is there enough class room space to accommodate the 54000 new students who will enter the university with the addition of an extra year? It is a well known fact across the colleges of DU that the colleges are suffering from serious shortage of space and more often than not fails to accommodate all the students under the 3 year programme. After the OBC expansion the funds received by the corrupt DU administration has been criminally wasted in mindless beautification drives without any attempt to enhance class room and laboratory space in the colleges. The VC has been responding with absolute irresponsible nonchalance when ever this issue has been raised. Can we allow the students to suffer academically when such primary infrastructural requirements like classrooms are not adequately met?

Teachers: What is even more alarming is the fact that DU is running severely short of teachers. With not a single appointment in last 3 years there are 5000 permanent posts lying vacant across the 80 colleges of DU. The show is managed by Ad hoc teachers whose job insecurity and rampant exploitation has made DU a most unequal university. The VC has developed the habit of rabidly slandering the teachers for raising genuine concerns about the shortcomings of FYUP while turning a blind eye to the glaring inadequacies with which the DU teachers are struggling daily. Can any University function in a sane manner when the majority of teachers are contractualized and are in a constant flux with no job security?

Dangers of Multiple Exit Degrees in FYUP

In the 3 year model DU offered two different programmes, 1) The BA, BSc, B.Com (Programme) courses and 2) BA, BSc, B.Com (Honours) courses.The Programme course and the honours courses were two separate courses with different curriculums, coherent and complete in themselves, offering the students with the choice to decide their courses according to their future career plans. The FYUP offers one single integrated course with a single “fit for all” curriculum with multiple exit points after 2 years (diploma degree), 3 years (bachelor Degree) and 4 Years (honours degree). This is disastrous for students for two reasons:

1.     Unlike a student from the 3 year programme who will have a complete degree in their hand the student from FYUP who exits after 2 years and 3 years with Diploma and Bachelor degree respectively will have an incomplete degree where s/he will only complete a certain number of courses of the entire 4 year programme. {2 year diploma will do 11 FC + 8 DC1+ 2 DC2+ 3 AC + 4 IMBH/CA course and 3 year Bachelor will do 11 FC + 14 DC1+ 4 DC2+ 5 AC + 8 IMBH/CA courses of the entire FYUP package of  11 FC + 20 DC1+ 6 DC2 + 5 AC + 10 IMBH/CA courses} The biggest concern is that the diploma and bachelor students will do a far lesser number of main discipline (DC1) courses.

2.     The FYUP programme will institutionalise the already existing high drop-out rate among DU students. The VC admitted as much in his Walk the Talk interview, where he said that 12% students drop out of DU without any certificate; the FYUP programme will equip such students with some certificate! Instead of seeking to correct the drop-out problem and ensure that students get a holistic and complete education, the multiple exit system is giving a ‘golden handshake’ of sorts to the students who, usually due to social and economic marginalisation, are dropping out.

3.     The biggest fallout will be in terms of the employability of the Diploma and Bachelor degree students who will exit after 2 and 3 years because they will be considered as students who failed to complete the entire 4 year programme. The multiple exit points of FYUP are therefore an open invitation to social discrimination among students.

4.     Instead of correcting existing the social-economic hierarchical divisions and ensuring that universities are an engine of social mobility, the FYUP programme will instead reproduce, perpetuate and justify these divisions: in effect saying, let the socially and economically weaker students get the ‘drop-out’ degrees and are thus available for lower-paid jobs, while only those who have the financial ability to sustain education for an additional year will have the privilege of getting higher-end jobs requiring the ‘Honours’ qualification.

Degradation of Curriculum

1)Foundation (faltu) Courses: The 10+2 students who enter DU after specializing in either arts, commerce or science to pursue further specialization in the specific stream or subject of his choice will now have to study 11 compulsory basic school level foundational course like maths, geography, business entrepreneurship, computer skills in their first 2 years. A student who has left maths or business entrepreneurship and wants to study a completely different subject will be forced to do all the 11 courses which are school level in nature. Doesn’t such an imposition of as many as 11 compulsory courses make the FYUP more rigid rather than more ‘flexible’ as claimed by the VC? One wonders how will doing school level courses guarantee employment in this highly competitive world where employers are looking for even greater amount of specialized knowledge and skills from their employees. Is the VC saying that a student who enters DU with the desire to develop himself/herself for knowledge-based high skilled jobs through the graduate course, should now be happy with the level of knowledge required for low-skilled and least-paid jobs alone?

2) Lower emphasis on Main discipline courses: In the 3 year model the honours subject papers which the student wanted to specialize constituted 75 % of the entire curriculum. IN FYUP with the student will do only 18 main discipline courses in 4 years while s/he will be loaded with 24 non-main discipline courses? (11foundation (faltu) courses + 5 extracurricular + 8 CA and ‘Integrated Mind Body Heart’ course) What is the point of burdening the student who wants to specialize in a specific subject with so many nonsensical courses?

3) Reduction of classes: The FYUP has reduced the number of weeks of teaching from 15 to 12.

In the previous model every paper with 3 units each was given 5 classes per week (roughly two classes /unit). In FYUP every paper has 4 units with only 4 classes (1 class/ unit). The VC should explain what great academic rigour will be accomplished by reducing teaching time in the university.

4) Training in Writing: In the 3 year annual model every student had to write 3 assignments and 1 project for each and every paper. This trained them in academic writing, enhanced their scholarship and gave them opportunity to do independent research. In FYUP students will not write a single assignment in the course of 4 years and only do 1 group presentation (7-8 students doing 1 presentation) for every paper. And yet the VC makes tall claims about developing skills and research potential of students.  

School of Open Learning

The VC has made ominous pronouncements in his TOI interview against the School of Open Learning which runs correspondence courses for students who cannot afford regular college education. The SOL will not come under the FYUP and therefore poor students who study in courses of SOL will not be able to join the regular course even if they perform well in their studies. This is a clear discrimination against the students of SOL who are ascribed the status of second class citizens within the same university. While there is need to address the problems of SOL it is absolutely anti-student to covertly derecognize the degree that this institution awards to lakhs of students.

With such glaring flaws and discriminatory content the FYUP will destroy the very basis of egalitarian quality education in DU. The stated aim of FYUP to judge education by economic value is the sweet coated poison that will pave the way of reducing DU into a private teaching shop that churns out semi-skilled students as a reserve army required for low-end jobs in the mushrooming corporate sector which subsists on ‘flexible’ low-paid labour. The FYUP actively institutionalises drop-outs and discourages students from pursuing higher learning and developing critical faculties which ought to be main aim of higher education as a social good in a developing country like ours.

We call upon all democratic sections of society to resist the disastrous anti-student, anti-academic ‘reforms’ of FYUP in Delhi University.

LDTF                               AISA

(Left and Democratic Teachers’ Forum)                                                     (All India Students’ Association)

Contact: 9868034224                                                                                   Contact: 9213974505

             9868337493                    

 

Professor’s casteist remark invites SC panel wrath


, TNN | Apr 20, 2013,

AMRITSAR: An assistant professor of Patiala‘s government medical college (GMC) is in the soup for allegedly passing casteist remarks against an MBBS student in a classroom.Turning the heat on the professor, the SC/ST commission on Friday asked the Patiala police to register a case against him.

Commission vice-chairman Raj Kumar, who belongs to Amritsar, said that he ordered an FIR after an inquiry report held the professor guilty of the charges.

The probe was conducted by a three-member committee comprising Dr H S Sandhu, Dr Manjit Singh Bal and Dr Anita Gupta.

According to the inquiry report, the incident happened on April 9 during a class of Harsimran Singh, an assistant professor in the ophthalmology department of GMC, Patiala.

Harsimran passed the casteist remarks against Amolpreet Singh after the student fumbled while answering the roll call.

The report states that Harsimran was taking attendance when he called for roll number 18

and Amolpreet whose roll number was 80 answered it which enraged the professor who remarked, “You bespectacled chap, stand up and get out. I am sure that only you are capable of this nonsense.”

The report says that the professor had

denied making any casteist remarks against

the student.

Raj Kumar said as many as 26 students, belonging to different castes, of the class had filed a complaint against the professor alleging that he had also asked Amolpreet about his category, PMT rank etc.

The students’ complaint quotes professor telling Amolpreet that “I have recognized you. Only an SC can do something like this.”

The commission VC said that he has also directed the Patiala police to hold an independent inquiry into the incident.

When contacted, Patiala SSP Gurmeet Singh Gill said that he has marked the inquiry to a committee headed by a police officer of the rank of DSP.

“We will take action after receiving the report,” said the SSP.

 

#India- Students Suicides- Petition by University Teachers


( This writ petition is before the AP High Court.)

We are all teachers who are deeply concerned about these suicides and the crisis in the universities that they point to. Our desire is to help the Court to understand why these suicides have taken place and urge that it takes note of the contexts that seem to be pushing students to take such terminal steps. We believe that the suicides are only the tip of the iceberg of many problems the student community (especially dalits and other marginalized groups) is experiencing.

These include: failure and constant fear of failing the examinations; insult; a sense of being stigmatized, unwanted or rejected socially and academically; consequent demoralization and lack of self belief; having failed not knowing how to face families who have struggled to educate them; not being able to fulfill the responsibility of supporting parents and siblings; sexual harassment; not having the economic resources to survive outside the university campuses–just to mention a few examples. University administrations have generally attributed these deaths to personal psychology instead of attempting to seriously study the problem and initiate broad systemic and attitudinal reforms.

  1. Analysis of Context

Social profiles of students who died are as follows. Across Hyderabad an overwhelming proportion of student suicides are of those belonging to marginalized social backgrounds. This marginalization may relate to caste, region, language, minority status and sexual orientation. The following examples demonstrate this trend:

    • Pulaya Raju committed suicide in March 2013. Aged 21 years, he was a student of 8th semester of the Integrated MA Linguistics at UoH, belonging to Scheduled Caste. He was from Warangal district and his father was a mine worker. Raju was the first to enter university in his family. After he cleared the courses in six semesters successfully(elsewhere this would have earned him a BA degree, but not in UoH), he got detained in four courses in the seventh semester. At the time of his death, he was uncertain and anxious about his next semester registration.
    • Mudasir Kamran, a Kashmiri student of EFL-U committed suicide in 2013. At the time of his death, he was writing his Ph.D thesis in the Department of English Language Teaching. He was distraught about being taken to the police station over a quarrel with a fellow student.
    • Rajitha, committed suicide in 2011. She was a 1st year student of MAPolitical Science in Osmania University. She came from a Scheduled Caste agricultural family. Her ambition was to join the Police Department. She could not face harassment from a male classmate.
    • Senthil Kumar died in the year 2008. Senthil Kumar, pursuing Ph.D in Physics at HCU was from a Panniandi (pig-rearing caste) family in Tamil Nadu. His parents were agricultural workers. He was worried about failing in the exams, finding a supervisor at the end of first year and about his scholarship (part of which he sent home regularly) being discontinued.
    • Malleshwari aged 21 years committed suicide in the year 2007. She was studying B.Tech in the College of Technology, Osmania Unviersity. She was from a poor backward caste family in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh. After getting detained in her first and second semesters with 50% backlogs, she committed suicide.

While it is impossible to establish a single “explanation”  for any of these suicides, each of them have raised a number of structural problems that relate to the crisis that the universities are facing today.

Failure has a specific meaning for these students. Due to many reasons, ‘discontinuing’ and going back home is not a viable option for poor, rural students, who may chose death over a future in which they must stare at their inability to provide for miserably poor families that have staked everything to educate them. In many cases they were also the academic “toppers” in a village or a community and the ignominy of returning as failures would also be unbearable.

There has been a demographic shift in the student population of the universities. From 1990s onwards, the number of students from marginalized groups reaching universities has steadily increased. Expansion in the scope of reservation to include backward castes has succeeded in bringing new groups into the universities. Increased vigilance has ensured that the SC-ST quotas are better filled. As such, this increase in the diversity of students is surely a welcome change and of signal importance in national life.

The suicides, we believe, point to the exclusionary mindset operative within the universities. This is usually also endorsed in the articulation of student anger following such events. While the acts and attitudes that emerge from this mindset may not always be willful or conscious, the mindset surfaces consistently in entrance procedures and norms, administrative arrangements, rules, curricula, teaching practices, testing and examination practices, various institutional procedures, faculty-student relations, indeed the entire culture of the university and its everyday life.  We feel that the university and we, as members of it, have not taken the challenge of addressing and dismantling this mindset seriously enough.   In other words, the multidimensional intellectual and institutional effort that is essential if this mindset is to be changed so that new students made part of the larger community has not been actively fostered. This may be done through institutional mandate (as for example in the noting of failure or dropout rates; focus on curricular change designed to “leave no student behind”; profiling of faculty and departments with a history of failed students) or through broad-based cultural initiatives.  On the contrary student anguish or anger has all too often been taken as depression or rowdyism and medicalized or criminalized.

All these problems raise many administrative challenges in terms of faculty-student ratio, hostel facilities, admissions, examinations, adequate number of administrative staff etc. which nevertheless do not receive adequate attention. Across the universities students report facing innumerable problems related to crowding, inadequacy and poor hygiene of toilets and other hostel facilities, shortage of food and drinking water (queues may be so long that students have to leave for class without lunch/breakfast). Lack of facilities and arrangements (more so for girls) for games and recreation is another factor impeding a healthy social life.

Students from marginalized groups also are troubled by lack of clarity and sometimes contradictions in examination and administrative procedures (a faculty member may not have declared the results of his/her course, but a registration cut-off date is enforced), rules that do not take into account their difficulties, and discretionary and biased treatment from the administration. For example, ‘don’t waste my time’, ‘go away’, ‘come tomorrow’, ‘I am busy now’, ‘your presence irritates me’ (the last spoken by a deputy registrar sitting in an air conditioned room) have become routine! They feel unwelcome –and experience a lack of mooring, support, and abandonment. In spite of the goodwill shown by a few individual faculty members, they experience the university to be ‘hostile’ towards them.

Universities, in our opinion, are also yet to acknowledge the need to change the prevailing academic culture of the university. We have been slow to engage with and adapt to new student needs, let alone challenge already established knowledge structures. The extraordinary merit of these students reaching the portals of the university despite all adversity is unrecognized and we continue to see them as a backward burden on the university system. We need to ask ourselves why far too many of the students who have made their way into the “big” universities through reservations and supported by national fellowships, drop out. Why are they, as a group, failing? Why do they begin, often for the first time in their lives to do badly in class, feel unwanted and unfairly treated, harassed by norms and regulations? A simple example of unfriendly regulations is the UoH system of registering every semester, which poses a lot of problems to these students who have to obtain ‘no dues’ certificates from six different people, including the library. Anyone who delays this procedure by a few days has to pay a penalty for identity cards and other administrative essentials. The lack of coordination between the Centre for Integrated Studies which runs the IMA programme, Departments at the post-graduate level, and examination branches is resulting in confusion regarding backlog/supplementary exams and eligibility of students for appearing in the next semester exams.

  1. Agenda for Change

It is submitted that serious curricular changes need to be made to ensure that the students from these groups will successfully complete their courses and acquire the required skills (for jobs). We continue to teach subjects, without thoughtfully rethinking and reorganizing the material and for the actual students in the classroom. Students are left feeling that the courses are designed to show up their inadequacy, not to help them learn. Curricula and pedagogy remains oriented to students from elite backgrounds.

The flexibility and openness to innovation of the semester system offers some avenues for adapting courses to suit new populations of students entering the university. This has not been fully exploited. Substantial work has to go into designing new curricula taking into account students’ strength, addressing their interests and gaps in abilities, and mediating between them and the possibilities of employment. There has been some acknowledgement of the necessary structural changes such as the establishment of Centres for Women’s Studies, Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy and introduction of a few courses in Gender/Dalit studies; but their contribution is isolated and academic. These issues do not become a serious concern of the university as a whole.

The Public Culture of the University needs to be actively changed. This can be done through rules, procedures of accountability, academic discussions, and, not least, cultural initiatives. The administration should visibly demonstrate that it is taking seriously its responsibility to what is, after all, the majority of people in this country. While these problems may be somewhat difficult, they are not insurmountable. Similar problems have been institutionally addressed with success in other countries, and adaptation is possible. For example, administrative fairness and justice for marginalized populations is a well-known fact about educational institutions in the US.

The University should be a location that facilitates the shaping of egalitarian and universal knowledge, the interaction of castes, classes, religions, regions and genders, the building of friendships and the development of mutual respect. This is not happening.  The loss is economic – that of the investment of a desperately poor family, sometimes and extended family and maybe an entire village; also that of the tax payer and the country. The loss to national culture is inestimable: failure of a critical forerunner sends a bad message to many children looking up to those who have gone ahead of them.  Universities in general, and we teachers in particular, need to be more accountable to the high failure rate, anxiety, disturbance that students are experiencing.

It is a matter of very deep concern that all too often police are called into the university.  Individual students involved in a quarrel and protesting students (who all too often are calling attention to these structural problems) are being taken to the police (and cases filed against them) for small issues that should have been addressed within the university or problems that have such deep structural roots. The University should by now be aware that problems that are complex and structural cannot be addressed as ones of law and order.  Students are threatened and humiliated by this and the results can be tragic. The most recent example is the suicide of Mudassir Kamran at English and Foreign Languages University.

Grievance Redressal Mechanims such as disciplinary committees, grievance cells at the department and university level, sexual harassment committees, SC/ST grievance cells etc. are neither fully functional nor accessible to the students. We would suggest that the revival of these several committees, rather than establishing one general grievance cell, will enable the culture of hearings and redressal to grow. Some universities have some of them in place. In some universities such as Osmania University, a Sexual Harassment Committee is yet to be established. In another example, in the aftermath of the suicide of Senthil Kumar, PhD student, in 2008, a Fact Finding Committee was constituted by the University of Hyderabad. One of the important findings of this Report was the need for Grievance Redressal mechanisms for every School/Department in the University where students can go with their problems.  The Report also emphasizes the need to nurture and take care of those students who come from marginalized backgrounds especially in a context where the watch words for contemporary university are that of access and equity. Reviving and strengthening the operation of these committees would go a long way towards establishing administrative fairness.

Towards this objective – of redefining the public culture of the universities, we have to radically rethink indicators of the formal educational system such as failure, drop out, forced discontinuation, irrational decline in the performance of entry level students (e.g. school or district toppers doing badly in university), even student anger against rules and procedures. The rethinking is all the more necessary as these indicators continue to be interpreted as student failure, and not as institutional inadequacy.

Provision needs to be made for an adequate number of counselors who are also aware of and trained to respond to the kinds of tensions and pressures individual students may be experiencing.  Women or dalit and other marginalized students facing harassment or demoralization, minority students ever in danger of being labeled as terrorist or scoffed at for wearing the hijab, those wrestling with issues of their sexuality and/or sexual orientation, also need help to confront these issues.  Though many of these problems are structural, it is individuals who suffer their effects. They need help to recognize the problems and deal with them productively and not destroy themselves through shame or self blame.

We have taken this opportunity of submitting a set of recommendations drawn from our experiences to make University education more inclusive and accessible. Such an exercise requires a wide range of issues to be addressed which include new set of curricula, administrative systems, teaching methods, policy initiatives, and general cultural orientation keeping in mind the fact that the university is one of the most important transformative institutions in India today.

Our plea is that an Inquiry Committee be constituted to study the whole wide range of issues that bear on student suicides. The Committee may also hold well publicized Open Hearings in the different universities, and receive written submissions from the public.  We the undersigned teachers are willing to assist this Court in laying down substantial ground rules for revisualising / revitalizing the university system as it exists today.

Signatories

Prof. G Haragopal, Rt Professor from Department of Political Science, HCU

Prof. Rama Melkote, Retd Professor, Department of Political Science, OU

Prof. Jacob Tharu, Retd Professor of Educational Evaluation, EFL-U

Prof. D.Narasimha Reddy, Sankaran Chair, NIRD, Hyderabad

Prof. Susie Tharu, Department of Cultural Studies, EFL-U

Prof. Padmini Swaminathan, Centre for Livelihoods Research, TISS, Hyderabad

Prof. PL Vishweshwar Rao, Head, Department of Journalism, MANUU

Prof Mariappan Periasamy, School of Chemistry, University of Hyderabad

Dr R Akhileshwari, Associate Professor, Dept of Journalism, OU

Dr. P Madhavi, Retired Associate Professor in Commerce, OU

Prof. T Nageswara Rao, Department of Commonwealth Literary Studies, EFL-U

Prof. D Vasanta, Department of Linguistics, OU

Prof. U Vindhya, Chairman, Academic Programmes, TISS, Hyderabad

Prof. P.Muthaiah, Department of Political Science, OU

Prof. Madhava Prasad, Department of Cultural Studies, EFL-U

Prof. Madabhushi Sridhar, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad

Prof. K.Srinivasulu, Department of Political Science, OU

Prof. Sasheej Hegde, Department of Sociology, HCU

Dr. K.Lakshminarayana, Associate Professor, Dept. of Economics, HCU

Prof. Vinod Pavarala, Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication, HCU

Prof. Gaddam Krishna Reddy, Department of Political Science, OU

Dr. P Thirumal, Associate Professor, SN School, HCU

Prof. R.V Ramana Murthy, Department of Economics, HCU

Dr.S. Durga Bhavani, Associate Professor, School of Computer and Information Sciences, HCU

Dr. Rekha Pappu, Associate Professor, Centre for Education, TISS, Hyderabad

Dr. K. Satyanarayana, Associate Professor, Department of Cultural Studies, EFL-U

Prof. M.T.Ansari, Director, Centre for Comparative Literature, HCU

Dr. Bhangya Bhukya, Associate Professor, Dept of Social Exclusion Studies, EFL -U

 

Bombay HC- Reimburse unaided schools for expense on SC/ST students #goodnews


Express news service : Mumbai, Thu Apr 04 2013,

 

Bombay High Court (HC) directed the state government Wednesday to reimburse unaided schools for expenses incurred on education of SC/ST students as per RTE Act.

The money — Rs 10, 463 per student per year till standard 7 or the actual amount spent, whichever less — is to be reimbursed irrespective of incomes of parents or guardians of the students from academic year 2010- 2011.

For higher secondary school students, the reimbursment is according to recommendations made by a state-appointed committee in 2010.

For schools in Mumbai, it is Rs 350; for those under other municipal corporations, it is Rs 250 and for the rest of the state, Rs 200.

Schools are also to be reimbursed for OBC, VJNT and SBC students the annual income of whose parents is less than Rs 1 lakh.

HC clarified while RTE Act could not be invoked against the wishes of minority unaided schools, institutions admitting students from disadvantaged sections could claim reimbursement.

A division bench of justices Mohit Shah and N M Jamdar said provisions of RTE Act should be read in the light of articles 21A (right to education) and 46 (promotion of educational and economic interests of weaker sections) of the Constitution.

HC noted though RTE Act applied to elementary education, the state had been giving the benefit of reimbursement to classes 9 and 10 as well.

 

Call for images from the IG Khan Memorial Trust



Calling for images

The IG Khan Memorial Trust is looking for images on the broad theme of
Labour and Dignity. The Trust, founded in memory of the late Dr IG Khan (a
historian and teacher at Aligarh Muslim University who worked on a variety
of social issues), organizes an annual lecture and events in association
with the university on the idea of social justice. For more on our work and
past events, see our website www.igkhan.org

We are looking for images on the (very) broad idea of labour and dignity.
These can be photographs, or drawings, or sketches, or calligraphy,
graphics or graffiti. The images can be to do with gender, work, child
labour, manual labour, obsolete labour, rickshaw pullers, paid and unpaid
work…feel free to interpret the idea in any way. For more details on our
event and work see www.igkhan.org

We will use these images in different forms during our memorial event/s on
AMU campus. Photographers and artists interested in sending work can email
us high-resolution copies at igmemorialtrust@gmail.com with permission for
one-time use. We can give credit (please specify credit line) but cannot
afford to pay for use.

Look forward to receiving your images!