Outgoing Delhi University vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh said on Sunday that his suggestions have been welcomed more abroad and that higher education in the country is “outdated”. “The concepts and methods that we have been following in the country are outdated and are hence landing the lakhs of students who graduate every year in a mess. When I proposed similar ideas outside India, they have been welcomed more.
“I was called to address a conference on MOOC (massive open, online courses) in London three years back where I had proposed that they are making a mistake by putting technology first and idea later. “I got a mail from the company’s CEO when I was back that how the idea went down well in their minds and how they are working on it. I was glad at least they understood what I was
saying. We can’t think of doing something similar here that easily,” he said.
Singh, whose tenure is coming to an end on October 28, has been vocal about how the higher-education in the country is moving on the pattern which was followed decades back. “Our pedagogy is outdated, we are focusing on creating more and more graduates, more and more teachers, but neither we are creating employers nor we are producing graduates with employability,” he said.
“When I took over the charge as the university’s vice-chancellor I came across the fact that the syllabus has not been updated 30-40 years in a fast changing department world. For instance, till three years ago, the department of history was teaching the history of Soviet Union till 1950.
“Imagine there was no mention that the old system had collapsed and things had changed radically. I was surprised at the fact that no one had objected to this situation. But if you tell them to change and update many will start opposing it,” he said.
“My own department had not really bothered to update its courses of study for almost 20 years. Remember mathematics is a fast moving discipline and technology or really computers have permeated mathematics teaching and research with applications in a major way with extraordinary benefits,” he added.
“Similarly, we are teaching subjects in academic context without realising that we need employability too. The best idea is for instance a student is studying Sanskrit, it should be clubbed with some other subject so the individual can also explore jobs in areas beyond Sanskrit.
Singh’s reforms in education did not go down well with the Delhi university teachers as well as the HRD ministry. He had mooted similar ideas in form of the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP), which he says was based on transdisciplinarity but the programme was rolled back an year later after UGC’s intervention. “No one is to be blamed for this. The situation is not just peculiar to Delhi University, it is the same across the country. But the problem is working out any change of this magnitude is a huge task.
“When I had visualised FYUP, it was different from what was introduced. But if a building is different from the architect’s plan doesn’t mean its not built well and needs to be discarded,” he said. Singh, a well known mathematician, has had a controversial tenure as the FYUP rollback left him at loggerheads with the HRD ministry, which even served him a show-cause for the same, first time in the varsity’ history. While no action was taken against Singh by the Visitor after the show-cause as well as the HRD recommendation for sending him on leave, he was dropped from a delegation accompanying the President to Jordan, Palestine and Israel earlier this month.