'Overall development of students': AICTE's defence of making yoga mandatory
In a move that drew a lot of flak, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) recently made it mandatory for students studying in engineering colleges and technical institutions to practice yoga or any other extra-curricular activities to obtain their degrees.
AICTE has now defended the decision. MP Poonia, vice-chairman of AICTE, told Catch: "Extra-curricular activities make sense everywhere, not just at the school level but at the level of higher education as well.
“Even if a college offers students facilities for sports or yoga or dance or music, students, more often than not, do not take it up unless it is mandatory. We want students to have a connect with society and nature. All colleges affiliated to AICTE are on board with the decision and we hope to execute the decision in this academic year itself,” he said.
The move has drawn a lot of flak primarily because of the number of fixed hours that AICTE has stipulated.
AICTE has fixed 1,000 hours of extra-curricular activities for a student pursuing a four-year engineering student. For three-year courses, the hours fixed are 750 hours and at 500 hours for two-year courses. This will be in addition to the conventional curriculum taught in colleges.
According to critics, forcing students at the higher education level where the curriculum is competitive and tough as it is to attend and develop skills in activities may be asking a bit too much.
The new curriculum
AICTE, which governs more than 10,000 institutions that constitute about 18 lakh students in the country, passed the order making yoga, sports or socially-relevant activities compulsory on 12 July.
Apart from engineering colleges; polytechnic, management, hotel management, pharmacy and architecture colleges under AICTE will also follow the new curriculum.
The five extracurricular activities listed by the AICTE are yoga, sports, National Cadet Corps (NCC), National Social Service (NSS) and Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, a programme aimed at uplifting rural India by enabling higher educational institutions to work with villages by identifying development challenges and finding solutions for sustainable growth.
Till now, extra-curricular activities were optional.
Poonia said, “Our target is to ensure the overall development of students. These days due to the fierce competition, students only end up concentrating on studies and classes. These activities will release stress in students and make them well rounded beings.”
Colleges that come under Central universities or deemed universities are not included in this mandate. However, the HRD ministry recently said that all India boards of studies were considering incorporation of yoga and value addition to the curriculum of all engineering courses.
Additionally, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had asked all universities and colleges to participate in the International Yoga Day (IYD), and submit proof of activities for review last month.