Need for measured steps to restore bridge courses

Academics have advocated measured steps for restoration of bridge/ foundation course for first-year students of arts and science colleges with proper planning, now that the off-line classes have started for intermediate and final year students

Last year, the academic year started too late for the freshers and the priority of the colleges was to complete as many units of portions they could. Dovetailing bridge course, which has been effective in enabling students from rural parts to adapt to the academic environment in higher educational institutions, with student induction programme, colleges usually offer it as a one-week intensive training before commencement of regular classes.

The University Grants Commission had initiated induction programme to enable students acclimatise with the new surroundings, develop bond with fellow students and teachers, develop sensitivity towards various issues of social relevance, and imbibing values so as to become responsible citizens.

The week-long activity encompasses a daily routine of games and sports to develop team work, mentoring by faculty members to equip the students to explore themselves, experience the joy of learning, standing up to peer pressure, and taking decisions with courage.

‘The road to recovery is too long. All is not lost. As such, there is no indication on when the normal offline classroom activities will be restored. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the foundation programme is inevitable. Skipping some portions can be manageable, but learning of life-skills must not be brushed aside. The pandemic must not be an alibi for skipping the bridge course,’ G. Balakrishnan, former Vice-Principal of St. Joseph’s College and soft skills trainer, said.

The colleges can even consider incorporating the bridge course into the academic activities during the course of the odd semester, if not the start of the session, Prof. Balakrishnan said, adding that the same could be done for the second year students who had to miss out on the foundation program last year.

‘Bridge courses being a requirement of the University Grants Commission, it is indeed necessary for universities and colleges to conduct bridge courses. The initiatives for scheduling and conducting bridge courses need to be taken at the department-level for better execution,’ V. Vinod Kumar, Professor, Department of English, Bharathidasan University, said.

Since there is a strong possibility for the 2021-22 academic year to be extended till June-July, the bridge course ought to be conducted at timings that students find convenient, Prof. Vinod Kumar said.

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