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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 34, New Delhi, August 7, 2021

ABC Regulation 2021, a push towards Blended Learning Mode, will lead to dilution of degrees | DUTA Press Release, July 29, 2021

Saturday 7 August 2021

DUTA Press Release, 29.7.2021

As part of his address to the nation on National Education Policy 2020, the PM today has launched Academic Bank of Credit (ABC), yet another NEP recommendation. The ABC Regulations intend to give impetus to Blended Learning Mode, allowing students to earn credits from various HEIs registered under this scheme and through SWAYAM, an online repository of courses. The student can earn up to 50% credits from outside the college/university where she/he is enrolled for the degree/diploma programme.

As more and more students wish to join mainstream education in regular mode, the Government is finding refuge in changing character of regular mode by forcing inclusion of online teaching component in the regular stream. Through this, the NEP 2020 intends to reduce universities to degree distributing shops by maximising enrolment, with reduced expenditure on teaching and non-teaching staff and with examinations and admissions outsourced to agencies.

Teachers across the country have warned the UGC against such ill-devised experiments with higher education. No reputed university in the world uses this format of a blended mode in the scale proposed here for regular teaching programmes.

These policies ignore the key ideas of Equity, Quality, Access and Efficacy. In their total advocacy of online/virtual solutions, they overlook the following: a) the digital divide of - access (class, caste, gender, region, rural/urban), and affordability (for the affluent/poor); b) the Dilution of rigor and intensity of courses; and c) impact on working conditions of teachers with fluctuating workload which will lead to loss of employment and casualisation / contractualisation.

With the SWAYAM Regulations 2021, ABC Regulations and Blended Learning model in place, teachers and universities will be rendered irrelevant. It would definitely lead to a reduction in workload by about 75% -80%. The faculty who will remain with the institutions will be reduced to coaches and extensions of administrative staff. There are examples of such “Non-Attending” Universities in the country. What needs to be inspected if these are ever counted as good institutions and figure amongst top universities in world rankings. Role of such universities is to provide piece of paper called degree, which is not of much worth in the job market. Such a policy shift may create a bubble of increased GER, but not in the percentage (i) of those enabled and (ii) of graduates with worthy degrees.

These policy documents do not take any responsibility of the quality of the degree in terms of their meaningful composition and employability. The ABC scheme will facilitate the credit recognition and credit redemption process for students who may choose all the 100% courses as per their choice. Such a UG degree in place of prevailing specialized Honors Degree is a retrograde step and will damage our capacity for knowledge production. Throughout the world specialization and collaborative work are key to path breaking research and our abilities to even comprehend crisis like the pandemic which we face today.

The pandemic has pushed universities to online education and the UGC/ MoE have failed to assess its real import in the light of issues raised by teachers and students. We find it extremely unfortunate that instead of taking steps required to make education accessible and meaningful in these adverse conditions, the Government is moving ahead to implement a business model of education which will damage learning experiences of the future generations of students.

With over 50% of the population below the age of 25 years, it is important that the country invests in public education and healthcare. Any short cut on this will reduce us to a market of cheap labour, with a huge population which is broken in terms of their abilities and mental fitness. For its damaging effect on students and their educational environment, teachers and universities, the DUTA rejects replacement of class-room teaching by online education.

Rajib Ray
President, DUTA

Rajinder Singh
Secretary, DUTA

ABC Regulations: 2021.7.28 - LINK

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