Students and teachers of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University on Wednesday said it was unnecessary and arbitrary for the administration to make attendance mandatory for all courses from the next semester.
The JNU management issued a circular on its decision last week. While it claimed that the academic council had approved the move to make attendance compulsory at a meeting on December 1, the institute’s students and professors contradicted the statement.
“Attendance was not discussed at the academic council meeting with students or teachers,” Simone Zoya Khan, the vice president of the JNU Students’ Union told the Hindustan Times. “It was not even on the agenda. The vice chancellor had mentioned something about this, saying they would do it, but no decision was made.”
Ayesha Kidwai, president of the JNU Teachers’ Association, said the move was unnecessary and ridiculous. She said the university did not have the problem of students skipping lectures. “This is not the way we do things in JNU, and we don’t think establishing a police culture is the way to ensure academic excellence,” she told The Indian Express.
The circular, issued on December 22, makes attendance mandatory for all students – including research scholars – in all programmes from the winter semester of 2018. More detailed guidelines, such as the minimum attendance limits, will be announced soon, Assistant Registrar Sajjan Singh said.
The JNU Students’ Union, led by student bodies of Left-wing parties, called the circular irrational, arbitrary and anti-student. The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party, called it a “regressive Tughlaqi farmaan [diktat]”, referring to the medieval king Muhammad bin Tughlaq.
“JNU’s academic excellence achieved till date has rested on the philosophy of freedom of debate and discussion, inclusion and equality,” said JNU Students’ Union President Geeta Kumari. “The move to impose compulsory attendance is highly absurd.”