Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Should higher education curricula be standardised?

It is a debate that is gaining attention of late in the media. Read the full debate that appeared in ET here.

Some points worth our noting from this debate:

1. Bringing about uniformity in the curricula has ramifications for the liberal ethos of higher education. These ramifications will be primarily in the form of curtailing the creative potential of teachers and students to ultimately make the system subservient to market needs.

2. Making courses subservient to the market needs in the name of linking the life inside and outside of the college, pushes the creative potential of the teacher as well as the student to the backseat.

3. Every region has a distinct socio-economic and cultural ethos which demands specific curriculum and pedagogy. Students coming from these varied backgrounds need varied curricula and pedagogic methods.

4. The perils that would result from implementing such a decision without adequate ground work would be:

a. Firstly, the backward linkages. When the input levels of students is vastly different, it would be meaningless to impose uniformity at the college level.

b. The infrastructure issue. The soft and physical infrastructure. Answers to questions like “Who will teach this world-class curriculum?”, “Where will be the textbooks and reference material for this?”, and “Whether there are adequate laboratories?” etc., need to be found first before jumping headlong into implementation. The human and physical infrastructure resources available in the hinterland of the country need to be kept in mind before ushering in any uniformity in the curriculum. Are all the universities in the country like JNUs and Delhi University?

c. Lastly, the evaluation system also needs a thorough revamp. Having a world class curriculum with an evaluation system that allows one to get away without critical thinking is meaningless.

Very good points know? Any inputs from you?