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History makes a silent exit

WITH THE advancement of Information Technology and the consequent electronic revolution, humanities have made a silent exit from the education scenario. History in particular.

The lure of the electronic world has become too hard to resist and the few colleges offering a bachelors programme in the subject are struggling to find the adequate strength for the classes.

The number of students opting for it has clearly slumped in the last five years.

No takers
Even among the students who join BA History, those who voluntarily opt for it are in a real minority."Most of the students in the class are those who have not scored enough marks to get into other streams such as Commerce and Business Management," says S.Saraswathy, Senior Lecturer, Department of History at the Nirmala College for Women.

Apart from the Arts and Science colleges that have been in the city for more than a decade, no self-financing college offers a discipline in History.

To attract more students to the subject, colleges offering History have added application-oriented subjects to the core syllabus. "This is to refute the general belief that the subject is dead. We have updated it to the latest developments taking place in society," says S. Arunmozhi, Head of the Department of History, PSGR Krishnammal College for Women.

Drastic decline
A conventional subject often accused of being obsolete has now been given a facelift with electives such as Journalism and Mass Communication, Human Resource Development, Human Rights and Tourism.

While in the 70s and 80s, History classes brimmed with students who were politically and historically conscious, the number has declined drastically now. "The students of this generation are completely ignorant of the past of their country. This is appalling," Ms. Arunmozhi laments.The History department at the PSGR Krishnammal College also offers two computer courses along with the core subjects. The students could also do an add-on course in Tourism Management in the evening.

The value of History has been underestimated to such an extent that students who choose the subject are not thought of very highly by society. "Contrary to society's belief that History students are not academically bright, most of them start enjoying it, even opting to do a Master's programme in History," Ms. Saraswathy asserts. For a deeper understanding of any subject, History is essential.

There is no point in being scientifically and technologically upfront without an awareness of our past, because of which we have reached where we are now," says Ms. Arunmozhi. Even the five-year integrated course in Humanities introduced by the Anna University has excluded history, she adds. Surprisingly, the disenchantment with humanities is seen more in the Southern States when compared with colleges and universities in North India.

Students really passionate about the subject could pursue careers in the administrative services, do research or take up archaeology.

The Hindu - Education Plus - Monday, June 12, 2006