'How are students supposed to learn a new language within a semester?'
Several Delhi University students who chose Tamil and Telugu as non-major subjects in the BA programme course last year are struggling to learn the languages claiming they are yet to be taught the basics.
Some first-year students from Venkateswara College and Miranda House -- the first batch to be admitted to the varsity through CUET -- say they opted for the course thinking they would be taught the languages from scratch.
However, as the syllabus is quite advanced, they now fear that they would not be able to clear the upcoming exams and are considering sitting for the Common University Entrance Test-UG (CUET-UG) afresh.
Students who opted for the BA programme (Political Science+Tamil) and (Political Science+Telugu) at Sri Venkateswara College have urged both the college and the university several times to change their subjects to either Hindi or Sanskrit, but the pleas have been turned down every time.
In its response, the university said the students should have seen the syllabus before opting for the course and asserted that the the chosen combination cannot be altered.
According to the New Education Policy (NEP), students have been given the choice to study different languages and they are a compulsory subject.
A professor at the Department of Modern Indian Languages said the issue is not limited to Telugu and Tamil languages and claimed that students who have taken up other regional languages like Bengali, Odia and Sindhi are also facing the same problem.
"The students do not know the language and they are being taught literature that is of advanced level," she said on the condition of anonymity.
She held the university responsible for this "fiasco" as many students' future is at risk.
"There are several languages whose teachers are not available.
"There is no single teacher in the varsity for Malayalam or Sindhi or Kannada. There is only one teacher for Gujarati. How are students supposed to learn a new language within a semester?" she said.
Earlier, the eligibility criteria for taking up a language as a minor discipline required students to have studied it up to Class 8.
However, the norm was removed after students raised this matter.
"When we were choosing our preferences we did not know about the eligibility criteria and no one pointed it out. Even the colleges verifying our application did not notice that we have no knowledge of the language," said Shivam Kumar, a first-year student of political science from Bihar, who opted for Telugu.
"We got to know about the eligibility criteria after we took admission. We then went to Dean of Admission Haneet Gandhi, who assured us that the norm will be removed," he added.
In November 2022, the university issued a new document on its Web site that did not mention the eligibility criteria.
However, when PTI checked, it found the old document with the eligibility criteria still visible on the DU Web site which has lead to confusion among students.
"With no hope in sight," Kumar on Sunday reapplied for CUET.
"Several students have applied for CUET. Our future is at stake. We do not even know the letters of the language, how can we take exams?" Kumar asked.
"We are going to fail...all of us. We requested them (the authorities) to change our subjects, but they did not listen," he added.
"There are 10 students like me in the college. I have no other option so I have applied for the entrance test again," Kumar said.
A student of Miranda House who opted for the BA programme (Political Science+Tamil) said she is the sole student in the college with this combination and a teacher was assigned to her only last week.
"I do not know how will I give the exam. This is hopeless. I am going to fail," said a 17-year-old student requesting anonymity.
DU Professor and former executive council member Rajesh Jha said the interests of the students concerned should be of paramount importance for the university.
"No injustice should be done with the students. In this case, genuine students of Tamil language were deprived due to the goof up of the university administration," he said.
"Instead of first teaching the basics, they want to teach them literature. How is that even possible?" Professor Jha asked.
"The way CUET has been imposed and admission process centralised in DU are responsible for such problems," Jha added.
Speaking to PTI, Dean of Admission Haneet Gandhi said an awareness campaign will be organised for the students, but the eligibility criteria will not be changed.
"We cannot do anything now. We cannot change their subjects. They (students) should have checked the syllabus before opting for the languages," she said.
"We will organise an awareness campaign," Gandhi added, "but the eligibility criteria will not be changed."
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com