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March 28, 2009

Reforms in Varsities

This newspaper has always argued for a complete overhaul of the existing higher education regime so that the business of teaching and learning is valid, reliable and relevant to the times. We have consistently argued that degree certificates cannot merely be a statement of a person’s qualification, but should rather be a certificate of education in the real sense of the term. This is to say, inter alia, that the certificates should certify a graduate’s capability in implementing the knowledge he has acquired and in contributing to the body of knowledge. After all, do we not talk of a knowledge society and India’s coming of age as a knowledge-producing country from a service-providing one? It is in this context that the recommendations of the UGC’s Committee on Academic and Administrative Reforms are laudable and ought to be implemented in the right earnest. The UGC has asked all the universities in the country to adopt semester system replacing the outdated annual examination system, as well as to introduce Choice-based Credit System (CBCS) that will enable students to complete part of their course from a specialized university or institute. In other words, under CBCS a student will have the option of studying the same course in different universities during which he will be evaluated continually. Both the semester system and CBCS will doubtless go a long way in making higher education both interesting and meaningful. But along with this, teaching methodologies must also change, as also curricula, so that the relevance of what is taught in the classroom is not lost in the world outside of it. Let the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) be also a pro-active partner in the process of varsity reforms. THE SENTINEL

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