Professors’ dissent brews in NEP cauldron

By Noor Aiman

Karnataka colleges still not prepared to implement new policy from this academic year

With Karnataka becoming the first State to implement the National Education Policy (NEP) from the current academic year 2021-2022, the colleges are now raising a voice of dissent saying that NEP should not be rolled out in a hurry. Recently, a group of autonomous colleges sent a memorandum to the State Government stating that although they welcome the policy, they want the Karnataka State Higher Education Council to issue clear guidelines on matters of courses, common syllabus, modalities and logistics of institutional mobility for students among other demands. In the absence of such guidelines, the implementations of NEP cannot be done effectively and diligently, they say.

How will NEP be rolled out?

As per the policy, students joining BA or BSc degree courses should opt for two subjects (as discipline core). At the start of the third year of the courses, they can opt for one subject as a major along with another subject, or they can opt for both as major subjects. In addition to opting for a discipline core, they need to choose Kannada and one more language as language subjects. Besides, they need to choose Open Electives and Discipline Electives as per curriculum structure. A separate Kannada curriculum will be prepared for those who have not studied Kannada in PUC or 10+2 level or for non-Kannada students.

Infrastructural constraints

The colleges argue that the flexibility given to students was a welcome move, but there are infrastructural constraints the institutions face in terms of laboratories among other logistic challenges, as all higher educational institutions function on a master time table. “As time is the essence here, we cannot gauge the nature and extent of course demand and also the fluctuating workload of faculty members. Students taking admissions in colleges do not have clarity on the NEP since they have not undergone any counselling. We need to ensure that they are introduced to the policy and are aware of its ramifications on their academic choices and career as well,” a college representative says.

No clear guidelines yet

This academic year, the college managements say, the policy can be implemented in singular major programmes like BCom, BBA, BCA and BSW. However, they need more time to implement the same in BA and BSc programmes. “As autonomous colleges, we need to maintain the structure and functionalities of the aforementioned status. In accordance with the NEP, we should also be granted degree-awarding status to ensure that we can adhere to the exit option given to students. Since we have not been given any clear guidelines, the overlapping of University and Autonomous College Programme will confuse the students and the academic system as well,” the colleges contended.

According to NEP, 40 per cent of the expected credit by the student can be earned using an online medium. In order to achieve this, there is a requirement of a robust Learning Management System. Currently, most of the colleges don’t have such digital infrastructure in place.

Another contentious issue in the NEP is the choice-based credit system. The stakeholders have to follow a common minimum curriculum and syllabi of the core papers as suggested by the General Educational Council and National Higher Education Resource Centre. College managements claim that so far they have not received concrete guidelines regarding this from the Karnataka State Education Council. “As per the policy, one of the disciplines that a student chooses can also be a vocational subject or Teacher Education. In the existing system, we do not have vocational courses that are offered to first year students,” a representative of an autonomous

college said.

Principals’ speak

A principal of an autonomous college, on condition of anonymity, told Bangalore Mirror: “Instead of implementing NEP in a phased manner from the lower classes, the State Government is executing it from the higher classes. The autonomous colleges have already completed the process of admission with the previous method of three-subject formula. But, now we are asked to offer only one major and one minor subject. Students are approaching us with a request to study all the three subjects. Now, it is difficult to shift from a three-year programme to a four-year course.”

Another college principal said, “It may create problems for both students and the faculty. It would have been better if it was announced next year. Students should have been told this a year ago for them to take effective decisions and pre-plan the course. Moreover, we need more teachers for the courses. No other state except New Delhi is adopting an education policy till now. Even Delhi is planning it effectively and going to implement it next year. The option of exit is a concern as well. How will we pay salaries to the teachers if students exit in between the courses?”

Quality education guaranteed: Government

Higher Education Minister Dr CN Ashwathnarayan says that the NEP was drafted after wider consultations for a period that spanned nearly six years and considering more than three lakh suggestions. “The policy aspires that students should become globally competitive while retaining their own identity. The policy will not be a threat to any of our national languages including Kannada,” he said in an official statement.

The State Government says that NEP’s ability to provide quality education in the government set up will also increase the learning opportunities of students and will make the management of institutions more dynamic.

To promote NEP, the State Government has instructed universities to set up separate helplines for the purpose. The State government is seeking CSR funds from the industry to develop this network. According to the Collegiate Education department, there will be no hard separation between arts, humanities, and science subjects. In this way, the policy enables multi-disciplinary learning.

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