Monday, February 20, 2012

History of EFL University (CIEFL)

History of the English and Foreign Languages University- EFLU
(Formerly Centre for English and Foreign Languages-CIEFL)

Sajit M. Mathews
            Words illumine everything. This is the motto and philosophy of the English and Foreign Languages University- the EFL U- the only university in India, devoted exclusively to the study of English and foreign languages. Down five decades of glorious and fruitful engagements with every aspect of pedagogical practice in India, the EFLU has proved that it lives up to its philosophy. Today’s EFL U, its glory and the finesse of its academic achievement are the results of relentless and motivated hard work, of a generation of veteran educationalists, who laid foundations of this temple of knowledge.
Phase 1
            The Central Institute of English- CIE, as it was known then, was founded in September 1958, with specific goals to improve the standard of English Teaching, to undertake relevant research and to publish materials. It was a venture of the central government of India, supported by the British council and the Ford Foundation. The formally established tasks of the CIE were Teaching, Undertaking relevant research and publishing materials.
Founding of the institute owed much to the vision of the then Prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. It was his special interest and love of Languages and of teaching, that led to the formation of the CIE. He could see the changing world and the necessity for learning a foreign language along with other Indian languages.
Phase 2
The CIE started off with 4 month Teacher Training Programmes offered twice a year. It also organized several conferences and refresher courses. Somewhat exceptionally for its day, CIE's courses provided Students, with guided group work, regular assignments, etc. which later were assimilated into the ongoing Class Room oriented research. With special focus on intermediate level syllabus design, the CIE contributed much to the nation's educational programme.
Structural Approach was the thrust of the institute in the beginning era. Later, creative and innovative thinking and research modified the philosophy of CIE several times until today. The ELE department was established in 1963 by Tickoo and company. For the first time in India, school text books were indigenized through two full length series of books by CIE starting from 1963. These books were used widely till the early 1990s, all over the country. Along with this, the institute was also setting the standard of Indian English, developing methodologies in teaching, undertaking research in inter-lingual contrastive analysis, etc. Simultaneous with these, the CIE produced a series of radio lessons [sj2] for schools of Andhra Pradesh. These programmes were later broadcast over All India Radio’s National Network  for years – English for Radio.
The EFL University pioneered the use of radio for language learning in 1963, and closed circuit television in 1973.
The Centre for Media and Communication has produced a five-year course of 75 graded programmes for learners of English at the elementary and intermediate levels of proficiency, and a course of 25 language teaching programmes for teachers.
The Centre’s radio lessons are regularly broadcast by All India Radio. Video programmes for advanced learners of English are broadcast by Doordarshan on the Countrywide Classroom channel sponsored by the UGC.
On 27th March, 1966, the institute shifted to the present campus, and was inaugurated by Dr. Zakir Hussain, the then vice President of India.
(CIE to CIEFL) In 1967, Mr. Ramesh Mohan took over as the Director of the CIE. For the next 18 years, the CIE went through tremendous changes under his able leadership.
Phase 3: 1972 - 1997
            In 1972, CIE became CIEFL, with additional responsibilities to study, spread and teach several foreign languages apart from English. A year after that, CIEFL was awarded the status of a deemed university, owing to its high academic standards. This period also saw lot of new initiatives like Vernacular- English programmed materials, introduction of correspondence courses, and establishment of German, Russian, French, Arabic and Material Production Departments. Meanwhile, two new campuses were opened at Shillong and Lucknow, to cater to the other parts of the country as well. The end of 1970s saw a series of evaluations and surveys to see how effective the CIEFL was in achieving its established goals. These led to better functioning of the CIEFL in the coming years. During this decade, the CIEFL spearheaded syllabus reform and curriculum development movements for Universities all over India.
            In 1983, the Educational Media Research Center- EMRC was established at CIEFL. Its specific purpose programmes in all subjects are broadcast over TV, with a viewership of over 20 Million.
            All these years, the library was gaining strength. Named after Ramesh Mohan, the library is a pride of the University, with a collection of over a hundred and fifty thousand books and 470 journals in all the fields of interests of the University. The accompanying Publications Unit, now equipped with state-of –the –art equipments disseminates research done here.
            English 400, UGC Package course, centre for translation and interpretation, Resourse book  at tertiary level, Spanish department,  Functional English Project, etc. were the other projects of this period.
Phase 4: 1997-2007
            In 1997, Pramod Talgeri took over as the third V.C. of CIEFL. Soon afterwards, the departments of the institute were realigned and re-designated as five schools, namely, ELE, Language Sciences, Critical Humanities, Distance Education and Foreign Languages. In the year 2000, MA Programme M.Phil. and Ph. D. Programmes were introduced. International Training Programmes started off.
Phase 4: EFL University- new milestone
            In the year 2006, CIEFL was given the status of a central University. In the following year, it was renamed as the English and Foreign Languages University by an act of the Parliament. Today, the EFL University has 11 schools and 38 Departments, in 3 campuses in India and 5 off-shore study centres abroad. It has tie-ups with 10 foreign Universities all over the world.
            Apart from the formal graduate, postgraduate, B.Ed., and Research programmes, EFLU offers distance and part time mode courses in almost all disciplines, including foreign languages. Ambitious programmes like multi-lingual dictionaries and English language Materials Bank are in store.
            Another contribution of the University is the design and implementation of the All India English Language Testing Authority – AIELTA. Envisaged as a future alternative to the present day language proficiency tests offered by other countries, it develops and administers a range of English language tests to measure a language user’s functional abilities. AIELTA  will soon go international.
            District centre Scheme and English Language Training Institute Support Scheme are two other high profile English Language Teaching outreach programmes. Both are time proved programmes in action for over two decades!
To sum up, the attempt is not to add one more elite institute, but rather to create a People’s University of international standards. The academic commitment will be spelt out in clear terms: galvanize people, make borders redundant.
The Act mandates the new university to advance and disseminate “instructional, research and extension facilities in the teaching of English and foreign languages and literatures in India” as well as “to take appropriate measures for inter-disciplinary studies and research in literary and cultural studies, and to develop critical intercultural understanding of civilizations.”