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Why over 50 DU teachers are opposing proposed FYUP syllabus for maths

In a petition to head of department, 52 DU professors have argued, among other things, that proposed syllabus for maths reduces credit hours for core courses.

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New Delhi: More than 50 Delhi University teachers have objected to the proposed mathematics syllabus for the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) to be implemented in the upcoming 2022-2023 session.

In a petition submitted to the head of the department of mathematics, 52 teachers from various colleges have argued, among other things, that the new syllabus has reduced credit hours for core courses.

The petition, dated 11 June, also notes that the introduction of new core courses “should not be at the expense” of existing ones that are “indispensable for laying a strong conceptual foundation”.

The teachers have demanded that a general body meeting be held to discuss the proposal before it is finalised for the DU Academic Council.

Nandita Narain, associate professor of mathematics at St. Stephen’s College, who signed the petition, told ThePrint that the new syllabus has included previously elective papers as core subjects, including discrete maths, numerical analysis, and probability theory.

Lecture credits, the professors say, have been reduced for “important” and “difficult” core papers like algebra and analysis.

ThePrint called and texted Professor Ruchi Das, the head of DU’s mathematics department, for a comment but did not receive a response by the time of publishing this report.

The newly proposed syllabus has 18 core papers and 54 lecture credits. The latter refers to the amount of credit a student earns for the successful completion of one contact hour and two preparation hours per week for a semester. The previously taught syllabus had 16 core papers and 66 lecture credits.

Delhi University rolled out plans for the FYUP in August last year. Subsequently, DU Vice-Chancellor Yogesh Singh set up committees to design the new curricula and courses. The proposed new syllabi were submitted on 10 June and will be finalised after the Academic Council of the university approves it.

Also Read: ‘Diluted’ degrees, learning loss, worse job prospects — why DU teachers’ body is against FYUP

‘How will we ensure learning happens?’

A major concern expressed in the petition is that the new syllabus might hinder foundational learning.

Prof. Narain gave the example of the papers in algebra and analysis. “Lecture credits assigned to the core foundational courses of analysis and algebra have been drastically reduced from 25 each to 15 each. This will adversely affect the conceptual base of mathematics honours students,” Narain said.

According to her, these subjects require “a lot of practice” and necessitated extra classes even earlier to ensure that students grasped concepts. “With reduced hours how will we ensure that learning happens?” she asked.

Another issue was the removal of papers on basic calculus in the first year of the undergraduate programme. The teachers have contended that this subject is necessary to “reinforce the students’ fundamentals in the subject” and “increase their comfort level in their very first semester”.

Further, the teachers have objected to the proposal that most maths electives should be available only on the MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) platform rather than being taught in classrooms.

“If all the teacher-taught electives are removed in one go, what will the teachers teach? There should be a healthy mix of the two so that the teachers do not have to bear witness to empty classrooms,” Narain said.

The petition, which includes signatories from numerous colleges, including St Stephen’s, Ramjas, Mata Sundari, and Kirori Mal, has called for a general body meeting to take into account the views of teachers.

The entire structure and syllabus for four years should be placed before the Academic Council for its consideration rather than just the first year, the petition demands.

(Edited by Asavari Singh)

Also Read: With focus on ‘real-world’ maths, IIT-Madras offers free web course to boost numerical literacy



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