Published: 06th August 2019
DU approves 'censored' first-semester syllabus: Made a mockery of our work, say teachers
The teachers are yet to receive any formal instruction from the university but high-ranking officials confirmed that the order will be out in a day or two
The Oversight Committee of the Delhi University, set up to review the syllabi of four undergraduate courses that have been tangled in controversy, ruled to pass the first-semester syllabus of the courses on Monday, a high-ranking official of the university said.
The teachers of the English department of the university, who have been agitating against the ABVP and NDTF's alleged interference in the syllabus approval procedure, were shocked at the notification that is expected to officially come out within the first week of August. "We have just heard that the Delhi University's Oversight Committee has taken the decision to dismember our syllabus, pass the first-semester syllabus and refer the remaining syllabus back for comprehensive revision," said one of the 164 teachers who also wrote to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Yogesh K Tyagi, on Monday urging him to approve the syllabus. "The details are awaited, but the decision prima facie is academically unjust and unacceptable. It undermines the academic prerogative of the concerned departments (English, History, Political Science and Sociology), makes a mockery of the hard work put in by hundreds of teachers and denies the students a sense of their academic progression through an incomplete syllabus. Needless to say, it also undermines the Learning Outcomes model as outcomes have to be understood in totality, not merely through isolated semester courses. If the university directs us, we will have little choice. But we will continue to stake our claim for the rest of the syllabus," the professor added.
A number of academics had written a distraught letter fearing that this may come to pass, "Two weeks have passed since the University reopened and students are being forced to reckon with the insecurity and instability that this has brought to both the academic atmosphere and the teaching calendar. By asking for only the first-semester syllabus to be passed, without any reference to the following five semesters, these teachers are being callously unjust to students," said the letter addressed to the VC, which can be regarded as a rebuttal to a letter written by Academic Council members that demanded that only the first-semester syllabus be approved for now and the rest be examined further. "We are shocked at the lack of academic thought and the complete insensitivity to the rights of students entering the University that is exposed by this frivolous demand and we sincerely hope you will not give in to it," it added.
The letter to Dr Tyagi, signed by 164 English teachers of the university intended "to correct the misinformation that has been conveyed through the letter written by eight members of the Academic Council (Dr Rasal Singh et al.) on the matter pertaining to the approval of the revised syllabus of the Department of English." The letter further added that some teachers have allegedly been spreading misinformation about the process of syllabus-making undertaken by four departments. The letter went on to point out nine reasons why their "outrage" is not misplaced.
They said that the allegation of being selective while designing the syllabus is baseless. "The Department sent out information of every meeting through emails to 497 recipients which included colleges, principals and their entire database of English teachers. Every mail asked teachers to spread the information to as many others as possible. This is verifiable through emails from the English Department. The approach of the Department was, therefore, neither selective nor non-inclusive," the teachers told the VC in the letter. "Indeed, this syllabus is one of the most inclusive English syllabi that Delhi University has produced. In one of the initial meetings, where the essential core syllabus was discussed, teachers unanimously determined that every paper should include at least one text on disability in order to sensitise students to this issue, a paper on literature and caste is essential and that in each paper we should try to include texts by Indian authors where possible (sic)," added the letter
They told the VC that this was no hurried decision and that they have worked on this syllabus for over two years. "In their entire series of attacks, they have not offered a single academic reason for the changes they are demanding, even as we have framed intellectual responses within each paper against their willful charges. In turn, we have faced threats of violence, disruption and their vilifying personal attacks," said the teachers.
The teachers, in their letter, also appealed to the VC, "for the sake of the students and teachers of English across the University, to facilitate the immediate approval and implementation of the entire Undergraduate English Syllabus that has been received by the Oversight Committee after due consideration and approval by the English Department’s Committee of Courses and the Faculty of Arts Committee last week".