Teachers express ‘utter dismay’ as DU asks for details of courses taught online

Written by Aranya Shankar
| New Delhi |

Published: April 22, 2020 10:27:11 am

Preeti Manchanda taking a mathematics class online. (Representational image)

Delhi University (DU) has asked colleges to provide details of courses for which online classes are being held through various apps. The move has invited criticism of the teachers’ association, members of statutory bodies as well as staff associations.

The Assistant Registrar (Colleges) Monday sent an email to all principals asking them to provide “list of courses for which online classes are being held with the help of Google Classroom, Google Hangouts, Google Meet or Zoom”. However, the email does not mention the reason for the collection of such information.

Expressing its “utter dismay”, DU Teachers’ Association (DUTA) President Rajib Ray wrote to the Vice-Chancellor, saying, “We wish to point out that the format sent out to colleges reveals extreme short-sightedness as there is no attempt whatsoever to find out how students and teachers are coping with the abrupt closure of the university due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown announced by the Government.”

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“The format expects teachers to answer questions in a manner that would reveal very little about the preparedness for exams or issues which they are facing. For this reason, the exercise seems to have been undertaken with very little application of mind regarding the ground realities and with the express purpose of preparing the ground for conduct of online exams. As conveyed to you in our earlier letter, we are opposed to the conduct of online exams and have explained the reasons to you, and it would be most unjust on the part of the University to insist on this mode of examination,” he added.

Ray commented, “A vast majority of our students face innumerable problems in accessing online classes for lack of internet services and laptops/smartphones”, and added that teachers “will not fill this information which we believe could be manipulated to draw convenient conclusions in favour of the conduct of online examinations”.

Executive Council member Rajesh Jha along with four other Academic Council members also questioned the logic. “Why such a rush to collect this data? Why is this intrusion in the exclusive space of a class constituted by the teacher and her students? Why should teachers and students submit to surveillance and control edifice getting erected without any statutory sanction and transparency?” they said.

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The Jesus & Mary College Staff Association said the “requisitions for information like this amounts to an effort to separate, identify and (potentially) reprimand teachers who are not using apps” and that “app-based online teaching is suspect in the context of certain impacts of the new education policy, and importantly, concerns about privacy and copyrights”.

While DU currently does not have a Dean of Colleges, Professor Suman Kundu who is looking after the portfolio for the time being, did not respond to calls and texts by The Indian Express.

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