Bad Education: Dropping compulsory maths & physics for a host of engineering disciplines is a bad idea

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March 15, 2021 6:15 AM

Such dilution may result in even more engineers, but it isn’t hard to imagine the bulk of them being unemployable if foundational courses are dropped.

Inclusivity, it can be argued, can be a focus of a higher education regulator, but this can’t come at the cost of driving down standards, especially for fields of education that involve specific subject competencies.Inclusivity, it can be argued, can be a focus of a higher education regulator, but this can’t come at the cost of driving down standards, especially for fields of education that involve specific subject competencies.

Not all aspiring engineers would be required to have studied maths and physics at the senior secondary level to enrol for an engineering undergraduate course, the All India Council for Technical Education(AICTE) had said last week. While the subjects would be compulsory for some disciplines, they may not be necessary for some others, and aspirants may be eligible for engineering education if they have had any three of these subjects at the senior secondary level—chemistry, computer science, electronics, information technology, biology, informatics practices, biotechnology, technical vocational subject, agriculture, engineering graphics, business studies and entrepreneurship. Subsequently, with the regulator having clarified that the exemption is not binding on states and engineering colleges, it will likey remain on paper, if the reactions to it are any indication.

Inclusivity, it can be argued, can be a focus of a higher education regulator, but this can’t come at the cost of driving down standards, especially for fields of education that involve specific subject competencies.

While some advocates of this exemption had argued that bridge courses in maths and physics can help students without these subjects at the 10+2 level, the fact is maths and physics are foundational courses.

Bridge courses target improving understanding, not generating this at the fundamental level. And, what if bridge courses don’t prove enough? Would the regulator then have to mandate a change in undergraduate curriculum for different engineering disciplines altogether?

Such dilution may result in even more engineers, but it isn’t hard to imagine the bulk of them being unemployable if foundational courses are dropped. A large chunk, studies have found, are perceived to be unemployable today; a dilution would only increase this number.

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