New Delhi: Delhi University (DU) has decided to conduct its semester exams online, through the open book examination (OBE) mode that will allow students to take the help of their textbooks. Students and teachers are, however, unhappy about the move.
Students and faculty members have been running social media campaigns over the last week and have even written to the President of India opposing the move on the grounds that it is not feasible given the socio-economic diversity in the university.
The university through a letter sent to all teachers on 13 May, a copy of which is with ThePrint, said exams will be conducted online and on a priority basis for final-year students.
The move has since sparked the #DUAgainstonlineexamination campaign on social media led by students and teachers.
According to data with university officials, the university will have to conduct exams for nearly 1.5 lakh students online. This, according to teachers, is a problem because students come from different socio-economic backgrounds and many may not have access to the internet, and even electricity.
Individual colleges and student unions have also passed resolutions saying they do not want to go ahead with the online exam.
The Jesus and Mary College Staff Association has passed a resolution against the move.
“The JMC Staff Association strongly believes that an online examination, including open book examination, is neither feasible nor desirable,” the resolution said. “Teachers’ and students’ organizations across the ideological spectrum have come to oppose such a proposal, and the JMC Staff Association echoes these valid objections.”
In a statement, students of Rajdhani College have called the decision “draconian”.
“The decision is draconian and leaves the students with many challenges, like students with poor backgrounds, lack of uninterrupted electricity and Internet, no printer, no laptops, no training of any such exam before, no support mechanism etc,” a statement from the college student association read.
‘If CBSE can have physical exams, why can’t DU?’
Faculty members are also questioning the move, by pointing out how CBSE is conducting its exams.
“When CBSE, which has lakhs of students all over India, can conduct a pen and paper exam in July, why can’t Delhi University do the same?” Ashish Pandey, a DU faculty member, has written to President Ramnath Kovind in a letter.
His letter urges the President, who is also the Visitor for the university, to intervene and get the online exams cancelled.
The Academics for Action and Development (AAD), a teachers’ association in DU, has also slammed the university administration offering to hold pen and paper exams for those who do not have laptops or access to computers.
“The university administration is going ahead with online open book examinations despite the strong resistance from teachers and students. Those who have internet and computer/laptop, will appear in online open examination in July and rest will appear in pen-paper exam for which time was not specified,” an AAD statement said. “This binary between the digital haves and have-nots is anti-social justice and strongly condemned by AAD.”
Students from the Department of Economics, Hindu College, have also released a statement opposing the exams. “We believe that the administration of the university is assuming that all its students are equally privileged to have an undisturbed internet connection day in and day out, have physically suitable conditions at their home to write their exams, have a stable frame of mind and or access to books and study material,” read the statement.
Delhi University’s new exam guidelines
According to the guidelines on conducting the exams, issued by Dean Examination DU, Vinay Gupta, on 13 May, students are supposed to appear in examinations from their homes and have to download question papers for their respective courses from the DU portal.
Students will attempt questions on plain papers, scan the answer sheet and upload it onto the portal. The answer sheet needs to be uploaded within three hours from the start of the examination.
The duration of examination would be for two hours. One hour additional would be given for downloading the Question Paper, scanning the answer sheets, and uploading it.
The concept of “Open-Book” examination, which the university is introducing for the first time, means students would be allowed to refer to their books, notes and other study material to answer the questions.
“Since it would be an Open-Book examination, the questions need to be framed in a manner which would test the understanding and analytical skills of the students and there should be NO/ minimum scope for verbatim copying from books and study material,” the letter sent by Dean Examinations reads.
“The mode adopted is not an online mode, internet is required only for downloading and uploading purposes, and it will only be minimal internet. Any latest phone will serve the purpose,” the letter adds.