Chandigarh: Y4S Statement on Examination Crisis in PU during Covid19
1. Raises fundamental questions on the understanding about education
Conducting exams without completion of the course syllabi raises fundamental question on the understanding of the University about education and its purpose. There have been no regular classes after 15th March, 2020. Moreover, the online classes that did take place, failed to get the syllabus completed. Moreover, many students failed to get benefit of the same due to their inaccessibility to digital infrastructure, proper reading materials and due to privacy concerns with respect to applications like Zoom. Additionally, the students have also not been provided with practical and field based training that is integral to many courses.
During a time when the entire world is grappling with the corona virus threat, PU administration has released a SOP and a tentative datesheet for the end semester examinations, without due consideration being given to a number of important factors. This step has created more unrest and uncertainty in the student community.
In such circumstances, conducting examinations would be nothing but a mockery of the entire education system, where students are being assessed on basis of a syllabus that wasn’t even taught to them. The Tentative Schedule also states that a 15-day time period shall be given to students to prepare for exams. The same is however not adequate to learn concepts and ideas designed for an entire semester.
Y4S would like to highlight various questions and difficulties that naturally flow with the examination proposal.
2.Travel and Accomodation
Majority of the students of university are not locals and come from across North India. MHA has left it to the states to decide on interstate travel. Travel in NCR has already reached SC for arbitration. It will be very difficult for students to undertake interstate travel for exams. Also, for undertaking exams, they’ll have no other option but to use public transports and thus make themselves vulnerable to the Covid disease. But reaching the campus too would not ensure safety, as it would become really difficult to follow safety precautions like social distancing in hostels. Additionally, many students would have no accomodation as they had (or were made) to vacate their PGs and flats due to the pandemic and in some cases, hostels were turned into quarantine centres.
3.Violation of MHA Guidelines
The MHA Guidelines on Phased Reopening, issued vide 30th May, 2020 suggests that the any decision regarding opening of universities should be taken after due consultations with all the stakeholders. However, the SOP and Tentative Date Sheet has been arbitrarily issued without paying heed to the concerns of the stakeholders.
4.Responsibility of University in case of outbreak
It’s pertinent to realize that India is witnessing an increase in the number of cases everyday. The situation has only worsened since March, 2020. The lockdown has been uplifted to tackle the economic crisis that has resulted from the pandemic, yet the health emergency is more serious than before. In such circumstances, if reopening of the University leads to the outbreak of Covid19 cases in the campus (or nearby areas) – would the University take the responsibility?
The situation at hand is really challenging but it is important to deal with it, keeping in mind the interests and concerns of all the stakeholders. Here are some suggestions that could be taken into consideration in doing so.
1.Intermediary Students to be promoted based on internal assessment and/or previous year performance:
The students in intermediary semesters should be promoted based on internal assessment (viva, research papers, projects) and/or their previous year performances. No examination should be held for these semesters and adequate plan should be made to hold examination when everything normalizes only for those who are unsatisfied with their graded marks.
2.Early Graduation for Final Year Students
The final semester examinations are very crucial for the students as they soon have to join their jobs, apply for further education etc. The Early Graduation System can be followed with regards to the final semesters, as has been done in some other universities.
a. Firstly, they should be assessed like the intermediary semester students, based on their internal assessment and previous year performance and a provisional result should be released
b. Regular examinations, should be then held for only those students who are unsatisfied with their results. This should be done with all safety measures like physical distancing being taken into account. Moreover, adequate accommodation facility should be provided to all such candidates. The syllabus for such exams should only be limited upto the curriculum that has been completed in regular classrooms till 15th March, 2020. Furthermore, adequate arrangement for extra classes should be made to teach the leftover syllabi to them once the situation normalises.
3.Policy Discussion with Stakeholders
The university should hold policy discussions with stakeholders through online platform. The portal should invite any suggestions, and register any grievances from all the stakeholders.
Additionally, the university should also take into consideration online surveys conducted by various organisations like SFI and PUSU with sample sizes of 4300 and 18,000 respectively.
4.Completion of syllabus in future semesters
As already highlighted, we should not forget the true purpose of education and thus the university should ensure that the students are not deprived of learning the necessary concepts.
a. For Final Semesters: With regards to final semesters, arrangement should be made for the students to help in completion of their last semester syllabi via extra classes once the situation normalises. Such arrangement should be made keeping in mind the standard work timings, as some of the students would already be working by then.
b. For intermediary semesters: The left over syllabus of should be adequately adjusted in the upcoming semesters.