The Telegraph
Saturday , November 24 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Visva mulls return to old schedule

- Meeting held to discuss grievances of students against new and long class timings

Santiniketan, Nov. 22: Visva-Bharati is looking into the possibilities of reverting to its old schedule or revise its current timings following grievances of students, varsity sources said.

At a meeting earlier this week of the varsity’s academic council, the highest decision-making body of the institution, several members said the students were facing some “practical problems” with the schedule introduced on August 1.

Classes are now held from 9.30am to 6pm with a half-hour break from 1.30pm.

Council members who attended Monday’s meeting said the students’ grievances were discussed in detail. Visva-Bharati vice-chancellor and academic council chairman Sushanta Duttagupta was present at the meeting. All professors, heads of departments and principals of different Bhavans are members of the council, whose decision on academic matters is final.

A council member said the VC gave a “patient hearing” to the members who “spoke at length” about the students’ grievances.

“We are looking into the possibilities of reverting to the old schedule or revising the current timings. A final decision will, however, be taken after further discussions,” said professor and council member.

Visva Bharati spokesperson Amrit Sen refused to speak on the issue, saying: “We can only comment on the matter after a decision is taken.”

A large number of students voiced protest after the new schedule was introduced.

Students of the agriculture department — Palli Siksha Bhavan — were the first to protest against the new schedule. They had boycotted classes for three days.

The students had said that as all educational activities now begin from 9.30am, they were being forced to attend fieldwork in the scorching sun. Farmers become busy with cultivation as the day progresses and therefore, can’t help students in fieldwork, which used to start earlier at 6.30am.

In September, students of Vidya Bhavan and Bhasha Bhavan (BA and MA courses) had boycotted classes demanding that the old schedule be brought back. They had written to the VC.

The students had said there were not enough canteens to accommodate all of them during the half-hour lunch break. Students pursuing certificate or diploma courses along with degree courses are finding it difficult to attend classes because of the tight schedule.

In a memorandum to the VC, the students had also pointed out that as classes ended at 6pm, those from outside Bolpur, especially girls, were facing difficulties in returning home.

The students said they were finding it difficult to spend more time in the library as it closed at 8pm and the two-hour window from 6pm was causing overcrowding.

“Under the old schedule, classes used to be held from 7am to 1pm. The Sikhsa Bhavan (science department) and the offices used to function from 10am to 5pm. The new schedule was introduced after Duttagupta took over as VC and found that the old one did not adhere to the 40-hour week mentioned in the human resource development ministry guidelines,” a varsity official said.

The VC also introduced a five-day week following a demand by the Adhyapak Sabha and the Karmi Sabha (teaching and non-teaching employees’ bodies of the varsity). Earlier, the varsity used to work for six days a week.

The Adhyapak Sabha has requested the VC to stick to the five-days-a-week regimen even if the old schedule is reintroduced.

Visva Bharati used to remain closed only on Wednesdays earlier. Under the five-days-a-week regimen, the varsity remains closed on Sundays too.