The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page

It is a strange situation when a higher education body decides to deprive secondary education institutions of their teachers. Authorities of the University of Calcutta have decided to debar honours graduate and postgraduate degree-holders in Urdu from taking up bachelor in education courses. Without a B.Ed degree, candidates would be unable to work as teachers in government-recognized secondary schools. In other words, the fact that the seven B.Ed institutions affiliated to the Calcutta University have banned Urdu students means one hundred or so Urdu-medium schools are being left in the lurch. The subject is, in effect, being banished from state-approved teaching. This manifest circularity is underpinned by an even greater absurdity. The university authorities have blamed deficiencies in the Urdu syllabi of the bachelorís and masterís degrees for their inability to admit Urdu students to the B.Ed course. This is passing strange. The syllabi could not have been decided upon except with the approval and participation of the relevant authorities from the university. The standard, as Urdu academy officials have pointed out, is the same as that of any other degree course conducted under university auspices. Besides, there has been no sudden change. Students of Urdu have studied B.Ed all this time. If the deficiencies have been discovered after so many years, the failure is the universityís, degree-holders in Urdu cannot be penalized for that.

Whatever reason the Calcutta University may have for this decision, sensitiveness has no part in it. To discourage higher studies in Urdu at a time majoritarian politics is causing so much distress and distrust among minorities is to invite trouble. Such a decision is peculiarly short-sighted in other ways too. It undermines efforts to bring specialist minority education out of its shell, which is the only way to break the hold of religious leaders on minority communities. It is one more move to create resentment instead of openness, to destroy trust instead of creating it, to emphasize difference rather than minimize it. If there is a real problem in the syllabus, it has to be discussed with the authorities concerned and corrected. That is the normal way to proceed, and that is what would have been done had another subject been at issue. It is not expected, under any circumstances, that students of history, for example, would be suddenly debarred from admission to the B.Ed course. A drastic step like the one the university has taken, far from providing a solution, will only intensify problems at more levels than the educational.

Email This Page