Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Semester Protests

The DU Academic Council passed the new semester courses yesterday, despite widespread and persistent protests over the past several months. Teachers of the English Department resigned from the committee of courses last week, but were served show-cause notices, with the threat of legal action against their continued opposition to the formulation of undergraduate semester courses. They retracted their resignations on Friday.

Over the past several months, students and teachers of several academic institutions and departments across the university have protested against the introduction of the semester system, which, they understand from the implicit instructions and agenda perpetuated by the incumbent government, serves as the stepping stone to the penultimate goal of segregating the university by making the colleges autonomous, and therefore, open to privatization and neo-liberal reform. Semester courses have been illegally passed without due process or consultation, and with great certainty the DU administration states they will be taught in the coming academic year. The case of the English department serves as an example of what has virtually been true of every department in the university: the 'general body meeting' overwhelmingly rejected the semester system, and the teachers in the committee of courses refused, as a result, to come up with a new undergraduate course. They were threatened by the administration and certain office-holders amongst their own colleagues to pass such a course by any means. They resigned and retracted their resignation under pressure.

Now, the courses have been accepted by the academic council of the DU administration, which, it can safely be assumed, is completely devoid of intellectual or moral credentials.

In the process, democratic choice and discussion, consultation and scientific assessment have been completely suppressed. The new system has been imposed without any dialogue or introspection. It has been imposed in a great hurry and completely undemocratically, and illegally. Statutory bodies have been undermined.

This is seen as the beginning of neo-liberal reforms in the educational sector. This is not speculation but fact. The National Knowledge Commission of the UPA government recommended the privatization of colleges and the increase of foreign investment in the sector, with all its natural consequences - the increase of tuition fees and the deduction of public subsidies, depriving citizens of their right to a good, affordable and public education.

The intention is to turn over the public sector to private profiteering. This is a grossly undemocratic act, and rest assured, the public will never accept such an injustice. Students have misunderstood the anti-semester protests as a purely technical concern - it is not; it is about the fight against the larger processes of undermining democratic rights.


tobasco said...

so, the smartasses are actually smart.
a) they impose the decision at a time when everyone is busy licking their books and have no time to step out of their rooms (yes, most of us are selfish).
b) nobody has realized that the meeting that took place on Monday had no student representation, which was obligatory as per the rules(but well all rules seem to have gone for a toss).
c) the present students are told that they are not stakeholders in this move as they will continue with annual examination model. So, do we expect class XII kids to protest?
d) why do they want to become corporate sellouts? Don't they get it that if the Indian education system goes for a toss, India follows suit?

Arjun Rajkhowa said...

I agree. The process has been so completely rigged and unethical. I am not sure if they understand their actions - if they, the officials in the university administration, are complicit in the larger agenda of dismantling public institutions and introducing neo-liberal reforms.