Published: 06th July 2020
Welcome to reason: Should universities follow a uniform syllabus and copy from each other?
According to recent media reports, the state government’s move to introduce a common syllabus for all degree and postgraduate courses offered in state-run universities is being debated intensely
Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort
Franklin D Roosevelt (1882-1945), President of USA from 1933 to 1945
Creativity or regimentation is oft-discussed. It applies to individuals such as teachers or students and to institutions like universities or colleges. But first, the facts:
They say that in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed is the king. There are 935 universities in India. But according to an Indian Express report from June 12, they failed to make it to the global ranking list. In the Indian ranking list, drawn by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the top three are the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi and Banaras Hindu University. These universities earned their ranks thanks to creativity and individuality rather than regimentally. Now, Karnataka is set to impose regimentally for its state universities.
According to recent media reports, the state government’s move to introduce a common syllabus for all degree and postgraduate courses offered in state-run universities is being debated intensely. The argument against the move is that if the uniform format is adopted, universities will lose their autonomy and diversity in the subjects they teach.
Higher Education Minister CN Ashwath Narayan held a meeting on this topic recently. He was advised by NASSCOM and certain other foreign entities that communalising the curriculum would be beneficial to students in getting jobs and building their careers. The move to go ahead with the idea was endorsed at the meeting.
A well-known academic opined that the higher education minister was trying to uproot a tree and place it on its head to water it. “If a common syllabus is introduced, the Board of Studies in the universities will become redundant,” he explained. Another educationist said that the move was detrimental to the autonomous growth of varieties in the state and it would prevent universities from offering courses that have a local flavour.
There is also a line of thought that should all colleges be forced to teach the same things, then we would move one step back in our conscious effort to move away from the rote system of learning that has been plaguing our school system and, by extension, our students. While this is not up for debate, the need to raise the quality of the curriculum in some institutions has never been more acute as it is today.
Supporters of the new proposal argue that a uniform syllabus would help students in acquiring knowledge and skills, getting jobs and building careers. They further pointed out that calculating theory and internal marks are different in different universities as of now. If a uniform syllabus is adopted, it will provide students with a level playing field. They further pointed out that students can switch between universities mid-course.