Govt to create online courses in liberal arts in sync with new education policy
The courses will be integrated with curriculum as covid-19 continues to disrupt classroom learning, with no clarity on reopening of colleges and educational institutions. These will make up for as much as 40% of course material for a semester, and reduce stress among 36% of undergraduates pursuing humanities.Updated: Aug 13, 2020 10:40 IST
India’s education regulators are working to create online courses in liberal arts, lagging so far, keeping in mind the tenet of inter-disciplinary learning of the National Education Policy (NEP).
The courses will be integrated with curriculum as covid-19 continues to disrupt classroom learning, with no clarity on reopening of colleges and educational institutions. These will make up for as much as 40% of course material for a semester, and reduce stress among 36% of undergraduates pursuing humanities.
Keeping in mind the crisis, chairman of University Grants Commission (UGC) has constituted an expert committee to map the existing online courses and identify gaps and develop material as per UGC’s model of choice-based credit system of curriculum, the apex education regulator has said in a notification.
In the first phase, UGC has proposed to develop 171 undergraduate online courses in six subjects of humanities and social science like history, political science, commerce, sociology, public administration and anthropology, as per the notification, a copy of which has been reviewed by Mint.
The courses will be hosted on government’s online platform Swayam, “to enable students to virtually attend the courses taught by the best faculty…take tests and earn academic credits upto 20%, which is being extended up to 40%, of the total courses offered in a programme in a semester through the online courses.”
“In the present environment, online learning is reducing disruptions caused by the health crisis, and it is better to prepare, plan and develop courses...In the first phase competent professors and institutions will be allowed to develop courses in key areas of liberal arts, and help the large Indian college going population,” said a government official, requesting anonymity. The plan is to gradually have an adequate mix of subjects so that students have choices.
The NEP has said that the notion of a ‘knowledge of many arts’ or what in modern times is often called the ‘liberal arts’ must be brought back to Indian education, as it will a requisite for the 21st century.
Other than giving choices to students, the UGC in May had approved an internal proposal that says higher educational institutions should be asked to deposit 15% of the fee collected from students for offering courses to the government scheme that promotes online courses and hosts them on a dedicated platform. Once they execute the plan, it will be a good source of revenue as currently most undergraduate students are pursuing humanities, and campuses are closed. As per official data, at UG level, almost 36% of students are enrolled in humanities courses followed by science (16.5%) and engineering (13.5%) streams.
“More than revenue, the move will help three things – quick response to the current disruptions, create a pool of courses which have high takers at colleges right now, and will help in inter-disciplinary learning. The pandemic offers a chance to accelerate efforts and reimagine education delivery,” the official cited above said.