Boring old science course? DU students, think again

August 12th, 2008 - 10:17 am ICT by IANS  

By Azera Rahman
New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) Plunging cut-off marks, vacant seats…Waking up to warning signals that students may be losing interest in science courses, Delhi University (DU) is planning to update the syllabus and become more tech savvy. A.K. Bakshi, director of the university’s Institute of Lifelong Learning (ILL), which was set up last year to promote e-learning, says an old syllabus is the main reason for students losing interest in science courses.

“At the school level, the syllabus keeps getting updated. Students learn about the latest developments in all fields. But in college, the material is the same, not having been updated for a long time,” he said.

According to Bakshi, the syllabus was fully revised three years ago after a gap of nearly two decades. But even then, it was bulky. Some changes were made to the syllabus again, particularly for the bachelor of science programme, this month.

“The aim is to update the syllabus at regular intervals, probably every two to five years,” Bakshi, who is also a chemistry professor, told IANS.

He said the university would like to be in constant touch with school boards such as the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) so that whenever they update their syllabi, the university too does so.

ILL is going to upload the e-learning material of around 10 subjects, including maths, chemistry, physics, life sciences, Hindi and English, in a month’s time.

With animation, visuals, virtual laboratories and audio clippings, ILL’s idea to make learning fun, while supplementing classroom teaching, students could sure look forward to science courses.

Two science subjects that after being revamped have gained a lot of popularity are bachelors in physics and mathematics honours.

Shalini Raghavan, a professor of maths in the university, said revamping the curriculum and making it more application- based has increased the popularity of the course even among girls who were earlier not very keen on the subject.

She also pointed out how students were choosing science subjects according to the job opportunities they could offer.

“The introduction of the financial analysis paper in the curriculum has increased the chances of a maths graduate getting a good job in the corporate world, instead of going for just research or teaching. The same goes for physics.

“At the end of the day, a student has to be convinced that all the hard work he is going to put into a subject will fetch him a good career,” Raghavan said.

Unlike maths and physics, those like botany and zoology find few takers. This year, institutions like the Hindu College had to pull down their cut off marks in science subjects and bring out a third cut-off list in order to fill up seats.

Even then, Kavita Sharma, principal of the Hindu College, was wary about dropouts in these courses as many students opt to go for professional courses like medicine or engineering even after taking admission.

Bakshi, a former Delhi University student and a topper at that, said he realised the lacunae in the Indian education system when he went abroad for his higher studies.

“Once you go abroad you realise the lacunae in the education system. With students from other countries alongside, you realise that you don’t know a lot of latest developments, new research and the like,” Bakshi said.

He and some other teachers discussed this with vice chancellor Deepak Pental last week and are looking forward to forming a curriculum development committee for every discipline.

“The curriculum development committee for each discipline will constitute teachers of that particular field who will look at incorporating the latest data and updating the syllabus of the subject.”

“Not only science, in other courses also we need to have new developments and ensure that latest data is incorporated in the curriculum. Only then will the student be interested,” Bakshi told IANS.

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