Until a few years ago, the Mumbai University was touted as having one of the best English departments in the country. But the recent results of the National Entrance Test (NET) paint a different picture. Out of 450 students who appeared for the English paper in the NET this June, only 18 have passed. Moreover, only two have been selected for Junior Research Fellowship. The poor result has prompted academicians to raise questions about the quality of education at the university. However, people from the institute are blaming the subject’s vast syllabus and question paper pattern for the poor result.
Ex pro-vice chancellor, AD Sawant says, “The poor NET results are the reflection of the current state of education in the university. Students who secure distinction in English in college struggle in post graduation. There is a scarcity of professors at the post graduate level. Senior lecturers have now been replaced by temporary professors not only in the university but also in the city’s top colleges.”
Former students who have passed out from the institute allege that faculty members converse in Hindi and Marathi in class and read out verbatim from the textbooks without any detailed explanation. An ex-student, who holds a PhD in English Literature from the university and did not wish to be named, claims, “The professors mostly converse in Hindi or Marathi. They even discuss the text in these languages.”
Another Postgraduate of English Literature who passed her MA examinations two years ago, claims that the professors simply enter the classrooms, read the books and leave. “Literature is a subject that needs active discussions. However, in our class, the lecturers would read the entire text book without asking us any questions or urging us to think. It was a monologue,” she said.
The professors are trying to save face by finding flaws in the teaching system of colleges affiliated to the university. A lecturer from the English department of the institute says, “Earlier only the university conducted English literature courses, but now even colleges have been given a right to conduct them. We don’t know what kind of faculty they are appointing to teach English. Also there are objective tests in NET, which are completely uncalled for. There should be a training body to train NET question paper settings.”
Dr Rambhau Badode, a professor from the department says, “The overall result has drastically improved by 20 to 25 per cent this year. Students find NET tough because they have a vast syllabus and have to refer several books. This affects their motivation.”
Naresh Chandra, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Mumbai University, claims that he needs time to understand and analyse the reason for the poor result. “Either the syllabus or the preparation pattern for the exam can be the reason,” he says vaguely.