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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

English both challenge and opportunity for TU post-grade students


NIRJANA SHARMA
A dream to become a banker brought Sarita KC all the way from Dang to Kathmandu.After completing graduation in management with flying colors, KC was quite confident about excelling in Master’s degree, too. But she now faces a major obstacle in achieving her long-cherished goal - in the form of English language.

Having studied all the way up to graduation in the Nepali medium, Sarita is finding it hard to cope with the new medium of the course at the post-graduation level.

“A month into the Master’s level, I am struggling to find the right English terminologies for the Nepali words that were familiar to me since school days,” says the 22-years-old MBS student.

She is among the first batch of students at the Department of Management of Tribhuvan University (TU) Central Campus under the newly adopted semester system at the Master’s Degree.

“We used to long for proper teaching technique at TU, and now that the classes are regular and disciplined, English has come up as the biggest challenge,” she whines.

Binita Subedi, a student of Mass Communications and Journalism at the TU Central Department of Journalism at Ratna Rajya Campus find it hard to expressive herself due to the language barrier.

The working journalist at one of the magazines named Byapar, Binita says she is hardly mustering enough confidence to appear in the exams in English.“I fear that I might fail the exams as I am unable to write the answers even though I know how to express them in Nepali,” she rues.

The English medium has troubled some students to such an extent that they were compelled to switch to another subject or faculty.

Lalit BK initially passed the entrance exams to get admission in the first batch of the semester system at the Ratna Rajya Campus.

BK had wished to complete the Master’s degree in Journalism to become a journalist. But, he decided to shift to Sociology at the same college as he struggled to comprehend the lectures and textbooks mostly written by foreign writers.

Along with BK, many other students of other faculties at the TU Central Department, Kirtipur have switched the course following the language barrier.

Though the TU’s Department of Population had managed 50 seats for students in the first semester, only 21 students have come for admissions so far.

According to the Department Chief Prof. Ram Sharan Pathak, the new medium has made many students nervous.

“The experienced teachers are trying hard to minimize the pressure. At the same time, even a lot of teachers themselves are not quite confident when it comes to the English medium-and not just the students,” Pathak added.

Despite the challenge, Associate Professor Prabal Pokharel of the Department of Journalism said that the students are making good progress, and that making the English medium mandatory would boost the ability of the students to broaden their horizon so that they can become better academicians and researchers in the longer run.

Stating that an obligation to study and take exams in the English medium would eventually lead to all-rounded development of students, he further said, “The students should take the new system as an opportunity to think beyond the box.”

As the students who have good command of the English language, they are more than happy with the improved quality of education at the university.

Students enrolled for the International Relation (IR) under the Faculty of Humanities as well as at the Departments of English and Mathematics are particularly happy now.

Finding the Science Department successfully delivering quality education under the semester system for the last two years, the university was encouraged to introduce the English medium in other faculties, says Department Chief Kedar Nath Uprety.

The experience with the semester system has been good with most of the faculties as the teachers will now get additional pay for dictating assignment.

However, they also face a lot of challenges especially those related to the curricula and project works in the newly adopted system.

Ill-prepared system?
While heads of the central departments fully defend the newly adopted courses, teachers are not opposed to the new system, but they do not hesitate to point out the shortcomings of the hastily designed courses.

Bharat Thapa, lecturer at the Department of Management under the university’s central campus acknowledged that the new system is far better as compared to the old ones insofar as making the teachers more responsible toward the students.

Thapa, who is himself completed the Master’s degree from the same department, also recalled how the teachers would not have to be accountable to take classes and hardly anyone would evaluate the performance of the students.

“The semester system has at least made teachers responsible enough to take the classes on a regular basis and involve students in project works,” he said. “The English medium is another merit of the new system.”

“I was not taught in the English medium. Today, however, I conduct all my lectures in English,” added Thapa, who has recently initiated project works for Marketing Management subject.

His grievance is that the concerned departments should have introduced the new system after being fully prepared for the same.

For instance, each and every chapter of the curriculum entails project work, which is not practically feasible, particularly when they are not provided with additional facilities, the teachers point out.

“Our department is yet to provide a projector for power point presentation for the students,” Thapa added.

Likewise, the department concerned should have make arrangement for guest lecturers which is essential to widen the students’ horizon as demanded by the new system.

And, most importantly, there was lack of enough interaction between the course designers and the teachers, he said.
Teachers also feel that it was not a good idea to devise the new and rather ambitious system also banking on temporary teachers hired in contract.

Associate Professor with the Department of Population Studies Keshav Adhikari said that the teachers also did not get enough time to prepare for the new course.

Responding to these grievances, TU Registrar Chandra Mani Poudel said that the course would be modified every semester, collecting feedback from both students and teachers.

He added that the revised courses would be introduced with a few months of observation of the classes.

To address the teachers’ issue, 771 seats are to be fulfilled through the special vacancies announced in April.

“All the departments would get new lecturers with whom the administration can act strictly compared to the contract teachers,” he added.

source/photo: republica,19 may 2014

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