The Jawaharlal Nehru Administration's move to make attendance mandatory for all its courses had got the goat of teachers and students over the administration's "unilateral and absurd" decision.
The university issued a circular to all the departments on December 22 making attendance mandatory for all students registered in all its programmes, including MPhil and PhD, from the winter semester 2018.
"In JNU where I teach, and which is generally considered the best university of the country, it is officially stated that attendance is not required," Saugata Bhaduri, professor of English, told the Telegraph , "Yet we run classes to full capacity and more, with students, not only coming to every scheduled class on their own without any rule asking them to do so, but actually seeking out every opportunity for extra classes and additional academic opportunities. That is what educational institutions should aspire for."
A detailed guideline of which is yet to be issued marking a certain attendace percentage.The Council has also advised all the schools and centres to maintain an attendance record of all regular students enrolled, reported NDTV.
Mandatory attendance in college has always been a highly debated subject worldwide, especially in the US. The academia is divided on forcing students to attend to class and inflating the scores with participation points where attendance is not mandatory. The biggest drawback of mandatory attendance is that students who will now be forced to show up for earning points will end up distracting students who are there willingly.
Critics of mandatory attendance say competency of students should not be measured by attendance percentage. For that there is tests.
The move has not gone down well with the students. The teachers association has also expressed its displeasure over the move ona campus that has never had the problem of "absenteeism".
A post graduate student, who did not want to be named, said that the varsity already had a culture where students attended lectures without any administrative diktat. He also admitted attending more lectures in JNU as compared to his alma mater at the Delhi University where there was compulsory attendance and marks for attendance.
"I don't see any problem with the move except that in the beginning of every lecture it will waste some time (especially if there are 80-100 students in a batch). People who attend lectures automatically do very well because the course and the exams are defined by the particular professor himself. Those who don't attend these lectures automatically get lower grades because there is hardly ever a substitute for these, he told Outlook.
"However, it might be a setback for the students who enroll in these courses only to get access to the hostel, reading rooms and library and prepare for other competetive examinations and hardly care for their grades," said another student. "It might make the degree itself a little more valuable."
Some students who are not bothered much with the new attendance rule say it might be a boon is disguise for the ones who actually attend the classes. "This will lead to lesser harassment for students who attend, I think. People coming to you for notes and what not," he quips.
Left dominated JNU Students' Union on Wednesday night came out with a statement condemning the 'arbitrary farmaan'. The union also alleged that it was kept out from any discussion on the issue and the last Academic Council meeting held on December 1 never took this decision, infact it was not even a part of the meeting's agenda.
It also referred to the decision as a move to "destroy the inclusive and democratic character of the campus through anti-students policies".
"JNU community has turned dhabas into protest spaces, dining halls for public meetings and stairs at the administrative block into classrooms-- we don't need your absurd guidelines for mandatory attendances," read the statement.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS) backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) also slammed the move and called out for effigies burning of the JNU administration over the "regressive Tughlaqi farmaan", reported Hindustan Times.
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