On The CBCS & It Being a Ghost

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The University Grants Commission (UGC) came up with the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) programme in the fall of 2014. As per it, students have a choice to choose from the prescribed courses, which are referred as core, discipline centric and elective papers. CBCS permits students to learn at their own pace, undergo additional/value added courses and acquire more than the required number of credits, depending upon the learner’s aptitude. All depends upon whether students are adopting an interdisciplinary approach in learning. This system was introduced by Kashmir University in 2015 belatedly due to floods of 2014.

The system seems to be quite absorbing but it has yet to be put in to practice in our state. Since J&K is in perpetual turmoil, especially after 2016, it is tough for both students and the administration to move ahead like other states. Now a state in turmoil can hardly provide a podium for such experiments. Within the 3 years of its introduction let me count some of its loopholes as they are evident for all of us to see:

Firstly, there is lack of coherence in classwork. To illustrate this let me narrate my own experiences. During our times, after attending classes of core papers for 4 days (up to Thursday), we were required to attend classes for open electives for the remaining two days. This was the schedule for classwork given there were no curfews or strikes. But rarely classes were conducted as per schedule. Since almost every week there are gunfights followed by strike calls from Hurriyat we are compelled to follow the syllabus on our own. This promotes the culture of note reading among students at least for OE courses if not for core papers, thus impeding the quality of education offered. Sometimes we were required to sit in exams for a course for which classes were rarely held.

Secondly, it is an inefficient system. The time process involved in holding exams and in evaluation process is so long that a degree promised to be completed in 2 years gets finished in 3 years. This time lag is causing mental anguish among students and places them at a comparative disadvantage vis-à-vis their peers elsewhere.

When we got admission in 2016, three students from our batch abandoned their studies in KU only after three months of admission. However they soon got admission at Jamia Milia Islamia. Ironic it may seem but they got their degrees six months ahead of us.

Thirdly, it destroys students enthusiasm to go for specialization. The system should aim at promoting interdisciplinary approach among students. By giving them opportunity to taste almost every discipline, it distracts students from their main subject. It appears the aim is to produce the ‘jack of all master of none’.

These are the loopholes of the system in our state but let us also touch the administration of Kashmir University. The administrative wing of university seemed to be busy from last three years with conducting experiments without worrying about ramifications thereof. And mostly the rate at which experiments are done is rapid enough to increase the chances of their failure. Within two years of the introduction of CBCS, university came along with another experiment of Continuous Assessment (Unitization). As per this mechanism, exams for every unit need to be conducted on continuous basis immediately after completion of the unit. How absurd was this idea and how frustrating it is for both faculty and the students. This was repealed immediately after a year due to general dissatisfaction with it. It kept faculty busy with evaluation process and students in examination trauma throughout the year.

The overall impact of experiments was quite awful. It degraded the image of university in the eyes of student community. Remember these loopholes are only evident in our state while as this system has produced desired results throughout the world. The concern that remains is how the callous general administration has been while introducing this system. They should have been well informed than anybody else that in a conflict ridden state things do not work normally. This system has failed to deliver in our state because it was tested in a bad laboratory susceptible to explosion.

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