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Saturday, November 19, 2011

MSU NEWS-2 Maharaja Sayajirao University depts struggle for survival

From _ DNA Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) is a benchmark when it comes to education in this part of the country. With several achievements to its credit and an ever increasing student population, MSU continues to retain its appeal. Unfortunately, students are getting attracted to only a select few departments in the university, the rest are getting lost in obscurity.

Courses that need immediate attention are the French and Persian, Arabic and Urdu departments which fall under faculty of Arts at MSU. DNA takes a look at the past and present of these 

Department of French 
One of the most popular departments in its heyday, the French department was started in the 1980s and soon became a much in demand subject for students aspiring to go abroad. Interestingly, French was being taught at the erstwhile Baroda College (before it became MSU in 1949) from 1893 when the Gaekwads called freedom fighter and poet Aurobindo Ghosh to conduct classes on the subject.

Ghosh's office still exists at the university with his photographs and books. But today, the department functions from a single room with less than half the required staff. "There is just one room allotted by the university for conducting French classes for all three years of the undergraduate programme, as well as for certificate courses of different faculties," said a source in the university, requesting anonymity.

Also, the university is contemplating merger of the French department with the German and Russian ones as the former cannot function by itself. "If this happens, the French department will lose its identity," added the source. 
Department of Persian, Arabic and Urdu

Baroda College started teaching Persian, Arabic and Urdu from its inception year in 1881. According to sources in the department, MSU is the only university in Gujarat which provides doctorates in these languages. Also this is the only institution that teaches Arabic in the state. Inspite of this uniqueness, the department lacks basic infrastructure.

The department attracts a good number of students from Iran, Afghanistan and central Asian countries of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. According to faculty, the department has witnessed a spurt in number of students opting for the course in last five years. "Every year, 80-100 students enroll in the three languages. The number this year has gone upto 140, highest in last five years," said an official.

The department, however, is facing a staff crunch. There is only one lecturer for Persian with two posts lying vacant since 2005. Ideally, the course requires six professors of which, currently, there are only three. This has increased the workload on the existing faculty.

Foreign students have to study in an old building and sit on creaking benches. Officials said the department received its last coat of paint in 1980!

The deplorable condition of these once popular departments raises a huge question on their existence. There is urgent need to raise awareness among people before they get lost in due course of time.

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