Credit and semester system in teaching departments

At a time when the Syndicate subcommittee constituted to study the functioning of the credit and semester system (CSS) in the teaching departments of the University of Kerala is scheduled to begin functioning next week, major recommendations turned in by an expert committee that studied the CSS in 2004 have been totally ignored.

A crucial recommendation of that committee chaired by the then Pro-Vice-Chancellor related to rewarding teachers who performed well and initiating disciplinary action against others. This was never even discussed at the highest levels of the varsity. The committee’s recommendation to introduce double valuation for CSS examinations did get implemented.

The convener of that committee and Director of the Centre for Geo-information Science and Technology V. Prasannakumar told The Hindu here on Sunday that his committee had taken feedback from every student and teacher at all the teaching departments of the university before finalising its recommendations.

Teacher-centric system

“The CSS is a highly teacher-centric system. This is why it is crucial for a teacher to function according to the letter and spirit of the system. In 2004, the CSS was functioning extremely well in some departments with many teachers turning in excellent performances. In some departments, it was just the opposite and many teachers just did what they pleased. This was precisely why we recommended the rewards and punishment system,” Dr. Prasannakumar explained.

He also pointed out that the rapid decline in the quality of students enrolling at the teaching departments was another reason for the current plight of the CSS.

“I am not sure that the present committee knows that there was a group which studied the CSS in 2004,” Dr. Prasannakumar said.

Till 2004, there was a practice in the CSS of students evaluating teachers. Gradually some departments dropped this and very soon this just disappeared, he added.

The convener of the present Syndicate subcommittee, K.L. Vivekanandan, told The Hindu that the entire gamut of the CSS operations needed review. “Should there be an entrance examination at all for the CSS admissions? It is time we thought about that. We would also be looking at the administrative side of the system, how syllabi are crafted and changed, how examinations are conducted in the CSS… In fact at a more fundamental level, it is time someone took a hard look at what precisely distinguishes the postgraduate programmes at the departments from those offered at the affiliated colleges,” he said.

Following a spate of complaints against some teachers in the departments, the varsity had handed down disciplinary action to some of them following an inquiry. The subcommittee to study the CSS was constituted against this backdrop.