NEW DELHI: St Stephen’s College intends to help Delhiites become better citizens. It is launching a course for the “citizens of Delhi” in March. There are no stratospheric cut-off marks to match for admission and no interview. Everyone over the age of 18 who has finished school is eligible to apply-the first 200 applicants will be selected for the first batch.
One of the reasons for setting the minimum age at 18 is that that’s when you become eligible to vote. “It is the citizen’s duty to make informed choices. How do you do that if you don’t understand the issues?” asks St Stephen’s principal, Valson Thampu. “This course will cater to a minimum level of growth, not the highest level but all-around growth. It will include elements of history, economics, law, sociology, management, political science, culture studies, current affairs, science and philosophy.”
There’s no fee for this beyond the Rs 1,000 to be paid at the time of registration, the last date for registration is February 20, 2015. To apply, one can write to firstname.lastname@example.org. The list of selected candidates will be posted in the website on February 22, and the course will commence on March 7. The “resources” will include some of St.Stephen’s faculty-Thampu himself, Karen Gabriel (English), Sanay Rao Ayde (political science) and Vikram Vyas (physics)-as well as members from its vast network of distinguished alumni. Classes will be held every Saturday from 4pm to 6pm.
“We want to serve the metropolis by sharing its academic resources with its citizens. Our effort will be to help in creating an ambience that’s culturally rich, intellectually vibrant, sensitive and caring,” says Thampu explaining his reasons for launching this programme. There must be a change in attitude. “Do you really think the police and CCTVs can deal with the issue of women’s safety? This course is an investment in the culture of the place.”
One reason for launching the course is that Thampu is “extremely unhappy with the label of elitism stuck on the college.” With the most basic admission criteria-there’s no age limit-this is likely to be a far more diverse class than the rest of Stephen’s. “Those who attend classes regularly will be conferred, in February 2016, a course certificate. Those who earn three such certificates, by attending the graded courses of study, over succeeding years, will be deemed honorary Stephanians, if they are already not Stephanians,” he adds.