New Delhi: Parents of disabled students enrolled with the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) have raised objections against holding physical examinations and have sought alternatives to promote the students.
Students on the mental disability spectrum will find it difficult to wear masks at examination centres, said a concerned parent, Shalini Verma, in an open letter to NIOS. Moreover, she noted that disabled students with compromised immunity face the risk of catching the disease from their scribe who will be sitting close to them.
“With the spike in the number of Covid cases, it is not possible to leave my son unassisted. Sometimes he needs help with new surroundings. The authorities need to realise that the sense of touch, which amidst this pandemic is a taboo, is something that students like my son rely on,” a parent of a visually challenged student told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.
“Add to this the problematic academic session which had online sessions. We had to ensure that all his study material was recorded timely and made to fit his needs,” she added.
Started by Verma, an online petition signed by over 2,800 parents has called for disabled students to be promoted on the basis of their Tutor Marked Assignments (TMA) and practical board examination marks.
CBSE and CISCE students have also taken to social media seeking cancellation of board exams for classes 10 and 12.
What NIOS says
Officials at NIOS, however, said waiving the exam is not a solution to the problem, drawing a parallel with the CBSE and other boards that have not cancelled their exams. They also said that regulations will be followed and the institute will help the students.
“We have permitted parents to be scribes for students so that they are safe. We haven’t received many complaints from parents of disabled students. We are ready to address their concerns, we are here to help all students who study with us,” NIOS chairperson Saroj Sharma told ThePrint.
The institute is working closely with the Ministry of Education and following all the rules and regulations put up by them, she added.
Another NIOS officer who didn’t wish to be named said, “This year when we conducted exams in the month of January we saw about 8 per cent of absenteeism and 92 per cent attendance. This came as a surprise since generally, we see absenteeism of 12-15 per cent during the examinations. This means students are turning up for the exam, there is no hesitancy.”
He said, “In addition to this, to make the process easier we have issued all the Covid related guidelines to be followed at all the regional centres where exams will be held. Students and parents have access to online forms where they can specify the facilities they will require at the exam centre.”