India’s female athletes may have made the country proud at the Rio Olympics but back home, a Delhi University college has decided to shut down its physical education course.
The principal of west Delhi’s Bhagini Nivedita College, Purbi Saikia, put up a notice on August 17, saying students who opted for the physical education course should opt for some other subject.
Physical education is an elective course taken by third-year undergraduate students enrolled in the BA programme and is taught over two semesters.
The sudden decision has alarmed the 24 students who are currently enrolled in the course. They have approached DU vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi, along with their physical education teachers.
The course was introduced in 2011 but was put on hold – among a host of courses – last year because a new curriculum was introduced under the controversial four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP).
“This course was closed when FYUP was introduced. Now we have Choice Based Credit System and so cannot continue,” said Saikia.
“Because of changes in workload, the course was withdrawn. Moreover, the person teaching the subject is not equipped for classroom teaching.”
But the concerned teacher, Mamta Sahrawat, alleged that the principal had unfairly targeted physical education among other courses and took the decision to shut it down with consultation and approval from the governing body.
“There were other application courses running before FYUP like physical education, mass communication and creative writing. Students can opt for these courses but not physical education. This is not fair when there are interested students,” said Sahrawat.
The decision has left students worried and confused about their future.
“We hope that the principal agrees and lets us study. Seniors have told me it is a good course with several career option,” said a student, on condition of anonymity.
Teachers from other departments of the college sent an application to the principal, requesting that the course be allowed to run.
“This option is quite popular among students and has produced good results in the past. So for the benefit of the students the course should be continued,” said the letter.
The controversy comes as a number of female athletes – shuttler PV Sindhu, wrestler Sakshi Malik and gymnast Dipa Karmakar – have captured the nation’s imagination with their stellar performance at the Olympics. Sindhu and Sakshi also won both of India’s medals at the Rio games.
But their success was peppered with impediments, especially at the school and college level, where they didn’t receive adequate infrastructural or administrative support.
Experts say that a lack of proper facilities, awareness about physical education and reliance on classroom academic training are responsible for the paltry number of female athletes in India.