“The new structure threatens to make minority languages a sort of recreational course”

Smaller departments at Delhi University are facing the threat of complete obliteration while some others are complaining of a severe reduction in course content and workload – even as the countdown to syllabus finalisation for the new four-year undergraduate course nears the end of its April 30 deadline.

“I am the only Tamil teacher in my college department; I will be retiring in May and after that I am almost sure the college will not be hiring another Tamil teacher,” said Miranda House teacher Vijayalakshmi Rajaram. She added that her college was one among a handful which offered the language along with other Indian languages like Bengali and Punjabi.

Ms. Rajaram fears that once she leaves, the children who have opted for Tamil in her college will be forced to take their classes from the university department and that in the new academic year, the option of Tamil will no longer be offered, thus completely removing the chances of a person coming from Tamil Nadu to apply for Miranda House. This might also happen in the other few colleges offering the language.

Shri Ram College of Commerce, which has a majority of students from other States, mostly from the South, has no provisions for these languages as the university had made Hindi compulsory for all its Commerce students in the second semester.

“This new structure threatens to make our subject as a sort of recreational course. We are already poor in the foreign languages department when we compare with institutes like Jawaharlal Nehru University. But, at least till now our students found jobs. Now even that will not be possible,” said a Spanish teacher, who added that the syllabus meeting would be held on Friday in which they planned to appeal for more leverage for their subject.

“Why are they meting out this step-motherly treatment for the minority languages?” questioned Ms. Rajaram.

Severely diluted

In the smaller Science departments, whose syllabus has already been finalised, too similar complaints are being heard. “Our course has been severely diluted. For example for a paper called “diversity” we have been given 35 periods to complete it, that too in one semester. Earlier in the annual mode, we had 85. For another paper, “vertebrates”, we studied 106 papers in the annual mode; under the semester it reduced to 54 specimens and now it is being further diluted,” said Zoology teacher Rama Sinha.

She added that her older students from the earlier annual mode were more confident of the subject and were well-placed but she was not equally sure about the coming batches. “We are not averse to change or revision -- in fact we believe in keeping with the times -- but you have to do it in a phased manner. All I can say is that the students are being short-changed.”

Her sentiments were echoed by History teacher Mukul Manglik who summed it up thus: “All suggestions are welcome from any part of the world, but the change has to be discussed first, there has to be a “proposal” that is made and not a “conclusion” before the discussion can even begin.”

More In: Delhi