Disappointed with the DMU doldrums!

This piece is written in a mood of serious concern and dismay over the rather unsavoury incidents and issues rattling Dhanamanjuri University (DMU) recently. Several newspapers including your own had been covering DMU’s student grievances, pertaining to every imaginable realm of university education over the past months and weeks. Like every other parent or guardian of university-going children (or wards) in Manipur, the establishment of this state university was a reason to rejoice. I earnestly enrolled four of my wards in three different post-graduate departments in successive years at DMU. This decision was made partly because the Covid-19 pandemic was hitting hard on an already frugal family income, and mostly because I, like many others, reposed a pensive faith in the state’s repeated and avowed attempts to reform the education sector. This elation was abruptly aborted and extremely short-lived however.
Speaking from the shared perspective of many students and guardians, PG education since its inception in DMU seems to have willfully flouted most norms in the academic rulebook.While skipping the specifics to maintain anonymity,I prefer pointing out some worrisome issues confronting most students across almost all PG streams and departments at this university. For one, classes have been excruciatingly irregular and sporadic. Class routines and time-tables are a mere formality and rarely followed. Students often wait indefinitely for teachers to turn up, or have to attend impromptu classes scheduled through phone calls. It is rare to have two full classes on most working days. Three full classes on an even rarer day are nothing but absolute luxury. Few seem intent on compensating teaching-learning irregularities and deficits through quality web resources or online classes. Remedial classes and tutorials, or segregating slow and advanced learners, is also unthought-of. Internal assessments are equally confounding – with teachers from constituent colleges assessing students they have never taught. Ironically,end-semester exams are always conducted in time even though very few teachers bother to even cover half of the prescribed syllabus before exams. With this non-working culture at the university (except for the clichéd microscopic minority of teachers), students are left to fend for themselves academically. It is all the more painful since post-graduation is a crucial stage where both theoretical and practical learning should acquire depth, breadth and relative specialization.
It is well known that there is a long-running culture of non-attendance and/or low attendance especially in higher education institutions in Manipur. Leaving the discussions on this absentee culture for some other day, the fault however lies equally with all stakeholders – teachers, government authorities, parents and students themselves. However, to the serious learners, the conspicuous non-teaching tradition at DMU, and the prevailing air of a near-derelict indifference among the authorities are extremely disconcerting.
Established recently, DMU is allegedly beset with different challenges – financial, personnel, managerial etc. However, it is incumbent upon the concerned authorities and the teachers to be magnanimous enough to set aside their problems and delink it from the teaching and learning process. They ought to ensure that learning activities never stop, and that the future of students is never jeopardized, however compelling the circumstances. At a time when Indian universities are faring miserably in global rankings, one wonders where DMU even stands in the higher education environs of North East India.This letter is written without malice to anyone, but with a growing despondency as a guardian struggling to provide quality education for my wards. It is high time we witnessed this varsity’s sincere intent to rectify its most basic flaws since its establishment. Otherwise, all the tedious and tall claims of equitable access to quality education will remain a chimera of sorts. Putting the subject of quality teaching aside, it is hoped that DMU will at least start conducting full post-graduate classes soon to gain some semblance of a true higher education institution.
K Bipin Singh
Sagolband, Imphal West.