Two teachers’ associations of Jadavpur University have communicated to the UGC that while the application of digital tools to make the teaching-learning process more innovative and inclusive is the need of the hour, the necessary physical infrastructure must be developed by the government. The Jadavpur University Teachers Association (JUTA) said in its response to the UGC Concept Note about blended learning method that majority of students do not have the required high-speed internet connectivity with a standard digital device, which is essential to get round-the-clock access to learning resources.
The geographical location of 60 per cent of all colleges and 40 per cent of all universities in India is in rural areas, where network connectivity is a major issue. Moreover, the digital divide among students is starkly visible across gender, caste, religion, region, and income, association general secretary Partha Pratim Roy said.
”In this backdrop, JUTA strongly feels that the mechanical imposition of a blended mode of education on such diversely different stakeholders of higher education is unscientific, iniquitous, and undemocratic… ”JUTA strongly feels that the hidden agenda behind this prescribed blended mode is to advocate reduction of government spending on higher education in the name of quality education,” he said.
The recommendation for a blended mode of education in the present scenario is ”untimely and is very likely to exclude millions of students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, from the arena of higher education,” Roy said. It is clear from the concept note that the blended mode of education will be effective for urban students from higher income groups, with better network connectivity as this blended mode will include and benefit only those who can financially afford better digital access, Roy said.
The All Bengal University Teachers’ Association (ABUTA) said the move to seek feedback of teachers bodies about blended teaching mode is nothing but an attempt to mislead the people as the UGC has already framed regulations asking Vice Chancellors of different universities to have 40 per cent of teaching on online mode. ”We had lodged our protests against the draft of new National Education Policy but the UGC ignored.
”We feel this blended teaching will destroy public funded university system, and help the privately run corporate sector,” ABUTA JU Convenor Goutam Maity said, adding the association communicated its decision to the UGC in a letter on Sunday. UGC had sent its concept note sent to the varsity and college teachers’ bodies last month about blended teaching mode in the pandemic situation and sought the views of the associations in this regard.