A look at the work of Goa University’s centre set up for the purpose

Goa University (GU) is all set to introduce M.A. in Women’s Studies from the academic year 2014-15. The content for the programme is being readied. The course could not be launched in 2013-14 for want of staff, admitted Shaila DeSouza, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Women’s Studies, GU.

Inadequate infrastructure plagues GU’s Centre for Women’s Studies as has been the case with several such centres across the country.

For quite some time now, the authorities at GU have been awaiting the State Government’s approval to take on the responsibility of conducting the women’s studies course which has been available at GU since 1988.

University insiders keenly following the progress of the Centre for Women’s Studies as a medium of women’s empowerment find it a bit strange that the GU still has to bank on University Grants Commission (UGC) funding for women’s studies while the government has taken on the responsibility of French, Portuguese and Latin American studies.

Not that they are opposed to these studies, but what they emphasise is that there is a greater need for women’s studies and relevance for Goa considering its status as a developed and progressive State.

“We have got a sanction from UGC till 2017 for additional staff and a mandate to be a full-fledged department teaching an M.A. programme but it cannot happen unless the Goa government commits to sustain it. We cannot leave students high and dry after 2017 nor is women’s studies the kind of course that is a self-financing one,” says Vice-Chancellor Satish Shetye who has been following up on the proposal with the government.

Syllabus

The M.A. syllabus has already been prepared, and has been passed by the Board of Studies and the Academic Council of the University; posts have been advertised and will be filled soon.

Insiders at the university associated with the women’s studies course are apprehensive about starting the M.A. without a commitment from the Goa government as they wonder how they will support the teachers beyond 2017.

“I do not want this to be a self-financing course and yet I have no doubt that it is a course that will be in demand,” said a source at the varsity, who pointed at the 21 students who are currently registered for the women’s studies optional.

Interestingly, Goa University has been asked by the Department of Woman and Child Development (DWCD) to set up the State Resource Centre for Women on its premises with funding from the National Mission for the Empowerment of Women (NMEW) and has recently got a Rs.25 lakh project research from the NMEW.

The Centre for Women’s Studies (CWS) was sanctioned for Goa University by the UGC under its earlier plan period. It was expected that eventually it would be converted into a full-fledged department.

“We have received some support from the UGC under the 12th Plan period and we have decided to start a women’s study programme,” GU Registrar Vijayendra Kamat said. The course will require additional financial support, which the university is seeking from the State government for appointment of at least two to three faculty members. At present, the Centre for Women’s Studies operates under a lone faculty person. The functions of the CWS are currently limited to carrying out research, documentation and advocacy in the area and networking with organisations committed to women’s empowerment at the state, national and international levels.

However, the UGC’s mandate for departments of women’s studies requires them to introduce a master’s level course in women’s studies ‘with a full complement of core and optional courses and a dissertation.’ The requirement states that the core courses will be in feminist theory and methodology with special reference to their contributions to general theory and methodology.

The optional courses may cover the range being developed at one of the 67 Women’s Studies Centres set up under the UGC programme across India. It was pointed out that at present, universities follow different systems with varying weightage for elective courses. This relative proportion has to be worked out by each university according to its requirements.

“We are actively following up with the State Government to sanction required faculty positions, but have not been successful so far. Undeterred, we plan to start with UGC sanctioned positions for the academic year 2014-15,” Mr. Kamat said.