‘Better decision’: Why Karnataka teachers welcome scrapping of the four-year undergraduate programme

Teachers from Bangalore University, Mangalore University said the institutions were unprepared for NEP 2020 and didn’t have resources for the FYUP.

The Karntaka government decision to scrap the four-year degree was received positively by teachers (Image: Bangalore University)The Karntaka government decision to scrap the four-year degree was received positively by teachers (Image: Bangalore University)

Atul Krishna | May 10, 2024 | 04:54 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Teachers across universities welcomed the Karnataka government’s decision to get rid of the four-year programme as they felt that universities were ill-prepared to implement it in the first place. A lack of teacher recruitment and adequate resources meant that most colleges had put off implementing it. However, they also said that with constant chopping and changing of policy, students, parents and teachers are in a state of constant uncertainty.

The Karnataka government notification, issued on Wednesday, reversed changes introduced by the previous government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Since the introduction of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, several BJP-run states were then keen to be the first to “implement” the policy despite it having multiple parts including ones requiring changes in central legislation and in the school education sector.

In August 2021, right after the second-wave of Covid-19, the ruling BJP-government in Karnataka declared itself the first state to implement NEP 2020, and announced four-year undergraduate programmes (FYUP) in universities and colleges with multiple-entry and multiple-exit options.

After coming to power in August, 2023, the current Congress government in Karnataka announced it will scrap the NEP 2020 and frame its own state education policy. The decision to scrap the four-year degree was part of this development.

The changes will be implemented from the 2024-25 batch. The 2021-22, 2022-23, and 2023-24 batches can still avail option of the fourth year, if available.

NEP 2020: Hurried implementation

Teachers across universities agreed that the NEP 2020 was implemented in a “hurried manner” and “without the necessary preparation” and hence scrapping the programme was the right decision.

“This is a better decision because the colleges don’t have the facilities to continue with the four-year degree because of both a lack of infrastructure and a lack of faculty. In Karnataka, the implementation of NEP was in a hurry-burry without any preparation,” said Ambarish R, professor at the Dharmasagara First Grade College, Bangalore University.

Three-years since the four-year degree was announced, most colleges in Bangalore University and Mangalore University are yet to give the option to students. The same goes for the multiple-entry multiple-exit options as neither university has released any of the marks lists for the 2021-22 batch from which the four-year programme was supposed to be implemented.

“The government had promised certificates for completing first year and diplomas for completing second year as part of NEP. Forget about the certificates and diplomas, not even the score cards were distributed to students who have completed the third year. Even the results were not announced on time,” said Ganesh Pai of the Association of Mangalore University College Teachers (AMUCT).

Moreover, universities such as the Bangalore university are yet to frame the syllabus for the seventh and eighth semesters.

“The university is not ready as they have not formed the syllabus for the seventh and eighth semester. Now the students are in the fifth semester. The government has to take an initiative to ensure that the syllabus is framed but there was no such effort. Now, the current government does not want to implement it,” said Ambarish, who is part of the NEP Syllabus Committee at Bangalore University.

Currently, in Bangalore University, only the BCom (honours) programme, which predates the NEP 2020, offers a four-year degree. It was not implemented for the rest of the courses.

Also read NEHU Colleges: How NEP 2020 is adding strain to an under-resourced system

No infrastructure for FYUP

Educationists said that there was no effort from either the previous or the current government to recruit enough teachers to make the NEP recommendations work.

“The NEP talks about quality education but quality teachers were not appointed. Contract teachers are being appointed and fired within 10 months… There is no infrastructure, no buildings, no teachers. Without additional teachers, how can the four-year courses be extended? They should have appointed teachers on time, given the necessary infrastructure but nothing is given. Just for the sake of elections they implemented NEP,” said Pai.

The fourth-year of the four-year degree is supposed to have more focus on research. However, according to teachers, the government neither built new research labs nor recruited qualified faculty in preparation for this.

“Seventh and eighth semesters mean there are around 12 subjects which will require three more teachers at the minimum. We need building infrastructure, we need research labs, we need highly qualified teachers who are capable of teaching research. You can’t expect it to run simply as the three-year programme has been run,” said Ambarish.

Currently, the 2021-22 batch is in their third year, and teachers feel that students will most probably take the conventional approach and take the three-year degree. “Most of them will not opt for the fourth year I feel. Because they have no faith in the system. When even mark lists are not given on time, then why would they waste an additional year,” said Pai.

In October 2023, the current government set up a 15-member committee to formulate a new State Education Policy. The decision to scrap the four-year degree was also taken based on the interim report of the same committee. Teachers said that, as the final report is expected to be submitted by August, there is a lot of confusion among students and teachers.

“This adds to the confusion. We conducted so many seminars for the faculty and students about the four-year degree. Now all of a sudden the government has changed and the scenario has changed and we are in a dilemma. We don’t know what the State Education Policy will recommend, we don’t know if the curriculum will be changed again, we have no idea,” said Ambarish.

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