The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Part II ahead, textbooks not available

Calcutta University (CU) has overhauled its education (honours and general) courses and has also declared the schedule for its Part-II examination. But it seems to have overlooked the obvious: the textbooks, which must be read before students take the test.

A majority of the texts in the new syllabus are yet to hit the market, leaving students with the only option — private coaching from teachers after college — over which the state government periodically frowns.

The education syllabus was “modernised” in the last academic session and the batch that takes the Part II exams in April will be the first to tackle the new course. But, without the books, the students do not know what the new curriculum looks like.

“Leave alone preparations, I am yet to set my eye on a single book suggested in the new syllabus,” complained a Part II candidate from Rammohun College. “The test is just a few days away and none of us know what our new curriculum looks like.”

The Part II exams have four 100-mark papers that cover topics like the development of education in free India, educational guidance and counselling, the methods of evaluation and the role of technology in furthering education. Texts include the Ashok Mitra Commission (which the government set up to suggest a way out of the English fiasco in schools), the Sarba Shiksha Aviyan now going on, the use of multimedia in education and other contemporary subjects. The syllabus lists 40-odd books, most of them in English, besides the papers on government policy. But not a single text is available.

Teachers admit that students are bound to face problems. “As it is, the first batch that tackles a revised curriculum always stumbles,” a member of the CU education faculty said. “The non-availability of texts compounds the problem,” she added.

The university, though, has notched up a plan to alleviate the suffering. “We have taken some informal decisions,” a senior official said. “The most important of them is telling paper-setters to set a relatively easy paper,” he disclosed. “Most of the topics that are new and cannot be studied will be left out,” he said.

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