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A home science graduate was often perceived by our "progressive'' society as the "perfect material for a housewife''. However, time has come to change the notion.

Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey (SNDT) Women's University, which was founded with a vision of Sanskrita Stree Parashakti (an enlightened woman is a source of infinite strength), has decided to tailor the degrees it will award its graduates.

From next year, there will be no separate home science stream; instead it will be included in the science programme and will have the "more accepted'' nomenclature of Bachelor of Science (BSc), along with the mention of the specialised subject.

SNDT University vice-chancellor Chandra Krishnamurthy said, "We have written to the University Grants Commission asking it to allow us to offer our programmes as BSc and MSc. Several universities across the country have already done it and I am sure that the UGC will permit us to offer our home science courses as science programmes. We will also mention the specialisation.''

This change was imminent as the subject is fast losing popularity among emnacipated women who apparently is finding it hardly useful in today's world. So, home science as a stream retires, giving way to a professional term acceptable even outside the home__science.

The move followed after several universities in India not only amended the name of this course, but altered the contents as well. Many universities in the country, after obtaining an approval from the UGC, re-named their course as family and community sciences. Accordong to faculty members of SNDT, the home science course offered in India is the equivalent of the human ecology programme in the West. Picking up from there, even the syllabus for Stds XI and XII for CBSE, being drafted by the NCERT, is likely to be named human ecology and family.

"There is lack of understanding about what home science offers, and in many ways, it is a misnomer. It deals with subjects centred around the welfare of individuals, family and society. It is a highly inter-disciplinary course, which is one of those that empowers women, allowing them opportunities to take up positions outside the home but also work from home and have flexi-time career opportunities,'' said Shobha Udipi, HOD (home sciences) at the SNDT University.

Over the years, home science courses have slipped down the popularity chart at SNDT. In fact, currently, the largest enrollment in the varsity is in arts and social sciences, followed by commerce, education programmes and then home science courses. However, the stream does have its utility and many have shined well after studying the course. Udipi added, "Several of our alumni are occupying important positions as dietitians in food industries, MNCs, agencies like Unicef, some head nutrition departments in academia, in the textile industry or in research and development in other countries. This department offers a person a broad view and is perhaps the only faculty, which deals with innumerable aspects that influence quality of life of the individual, family and society.''



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