Monday, May 29, 2023
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Indian educational institutes should break norms in Covid times, not conduct online exams

Universities like to constantly evaluate students but during the Covid crisis, they can be a little empathetic and cancel exams.

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Every child in India wishes at some point that their schools get shut for the foreseeable future and they get to languish at home. Another wish that closely follows is that exams get delayed, or better yet, cancelled.

With the coronavirus wreaking havoc across the world, these two express wishes of students have, in fact, come true. But not in the best of circumstances. Schools and colleges were among the first institutions to be shut when the pandemic was announced, even in India. However, these holidays are not as blissful as students thought they would be.

And Indian educational institutions were just not ready for the lockdown.

With school and colleges shut, there was a mad dash to compensate for the lost time by introducing haphazard models of online learning. In most Indian educational institutions, it is actually a miracle to find a working computer and WiFi connection with proper bandwidth. In the midst of such technological deficiency, any sort of online module is bound to fail.

But the online classes began, and are still continuing. However, a similar poorly glued together plan cannot be undertaken for exams. Especially when you can’t trust your WiFi and computer security. While classes are about imparting knowledge, exams, especially in the context of Indian education, are about evaluation and competition. If students have not been taught properly, the question of a formal evaluation should not even arise.

Also Read: Why online classes may not be such a good idea after all, especially for kids

Students from all walks of life

Delhi University (DU) shut in mid-March and now the authorities are mulling over conducting end-semester exams online. These decisions are being taken without any input from the students themselves, the primary stakeholders in this situation.

Students in a public university like DU come from all walks of life. Most of them have gone back to their homes and villages — and thus, not everyone has access to a fast WiFi connection, personal computers, laptops or even a quiet space in their house, which are imperative to conduct online exams.

A student pursuing an MA in History from DU said, “We don’t have access to basic stationary like pen and paper only, online exams are a far cry.” And he is one of the many students who face these challenges. When it is just online classes, you can still attend those and share notes with the ones who were unable to access them. But how does one proxy in exams, and more importantly, why should one?

In Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) as well, authorities have postponed the exams but are rather confident that things will be well enough by late June and July to conduct exams. The JNU administration has also allowed different centres to choose their own mode of exams and many, especially Science departments, are choosing to go with offline exams.  However, the past few months have made one thing clear — novel coronavirus is pretty consistent in its unpredictability.

No one actually knows the path the coronavirus will take in India and planning out a schedule for the rest of the year is slightly demented. Especially when most of your students reside outside Delhi and have to plan their travel back to the city.

Also Read: Online university exams a ‘remote possibility’ as UGC officials highlight host of concerns

Cancel exams in Covid times

Most universities are still hell-bent on conducting exams even though there is no way to do so. For India, that seems to be the only marker of education.

This is not unsurprising though, as Indian educational administrations are not known to be kind to their students. Everything from complicated procedures for the simple administrative work, uncooperative and glitchy website servers, unpaid academic resources and inaccessible officials — it’s like the very institutional framework is erected to make life as difficult as possible for students.

You have to prove that you learned something of importance in the last four months that you sat in class. Of course, most students don’t actually sit in class and can easily pass these exams by cramming any guidebook. So, essentially, the very purpose of these exams is never fulfilled. Perhaps, all of this is still justifiable under normal circumstances.

But the current situation is far from normal. This is the one time these universities can afford to swivel away from the norm and take drastic measures. Measures like cancelling exams. It is not even that strange a recommendation. A friend studying in Hyderabad Central University shared that a committee of professors has suggested that exams should be cancelled and students should be awarded an average score based on their past performance. The committee also recommended that students should be given an option to to sit for exams if they wish to improve their score.

If one university can do it, surely, it is not unprecedented to call for all universities to follow suit. They need to understand that it is absolutely unfair to ask students to sit for exams in the middle of a pandemic. Not only does the question of access arise but also about their psychological circumstances. How is one supposed to concentrate on studying for exams when all they hear are the number of lives this coronavirus has claimed. Moreover, some of these students or their family members could be infected by the virus, which just makes the situation more stressful for such people.

Cancel exams in 2020, focus on learning.

Views are personal.

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  1. @DwaipayanMondal-You are completely right my friend, these people should know that they should cancel exams in this crisis period, they will get much time to conduct that thing in future. because marks, grades are not as important as health, they should guide those stupid parents who try to project their kids as 9 pointers in these things

  2. I am really against those selfish people who prioritize API scores above health whereas the latter is much important than the former,even if you wish to conduct exams then there should be no practicals and only the theories, the students will be benefitted if their grade card contains <7 papers or <8 papers for this semester and these exams are to be conducted online instead of offline, and the assessment should be external instead of internal, this is necessary for all UG students' protection, so I would advise that BHU cancels all the practicals and conducts only the theories in the above mentioned method, the exam for this level can be conducted in the Sept-Oct-Nov period,the BHU authorities need to get such an order for the DM of Varanasi regarding the viva-voce of these students during COVID times due to their high no. of students & seats, no matter if they get only 18 credits or only <21 credits.. this rule shall be applicable for especially the students of the non-STEM fields.

  3. Moreover as I have told you on 19th June, I would also like to tell you that since the number of seats as well as the number of applicants for the PG and PhD levels are significantly lower so their exams as well as classes are possible face-to-face since they can be easily seated by maintaining a 2-gauze distance for each candidate pairs but since the number of seats as well as the number of applicants for the UG level are significantly higher so their exams as well as classes are impossible face-to-face since they cannot be easily seated by maintaining a 2-gauze distance for each candidate pairs so I object to this decision.

  4. Due to the same reason I am currently writing a letter to the DM of Varanasi to cancel the exams during this period

    • This is the same reason for which many students are appealing in Supreme Court against the stupid decision of UGC to conduct exams during this pandemic

  5. Abosolutely! There is no point in conducting exams in such a crisis. All pupil do not have the same facilities, and that doesn’t mean they are not meant for educational evaluation ! The Education System should focus on learning this year, so that the students are not in short of knowledge for the next standard, when this pandemic gets over. I would be glad if this happened.

  6. BHU should also follow the same norm as you all said. I would advise that all examinations of K-UG from (Kindergarten level to Undergraduate level) should be cancelled in this COVID-19 pandemic situation and not be taken for at least this semester no matter whether it is of theory or of practical since none of them are eligible for appearing in the NET exam but the same can be done for both PG and PhD levels as both these levels are eligible for appearing in the NET exam

  7. Its not right time for conduction of exam. Whether online due to poor net connectivity or facility in remote or rural areas.Considering fact that they looking for opening educational institution in july they might think of conducting offline exam that is not safe.

  8. Its not right time for conduction of exam. Whether online due to poor net connectivity or facility in remote or rural areas.Considering fact that they looking for opening educational institution in july they might think of conducting offline exam that is not safe.

  9. Why the heck are these happening in the first place i mean online classes are a disaster the government should do a poll regarding exams even in times like this all they want is literacy rate nothing more cant they see how this virus is affecting our lives and yet here they are wishing to conduct exam

  10. It’s really good suggestion . The module given by the hyderabad universty is best . I’m an inhabitant of Jammu and Kashmir. I belong to a rural area. Current scenario is that only 2g networks are working here , it’s a miracle for us if our network works sometimes. Maximum of the students don’t even have their study material with them .
    There were two positive cases confirmed today in my neighborhood,how am I supposed to focused on exam now.
    It’s a humble request for the universities to follow the system proposed by Central University Hyderabad.

    • How this will apply to admission for Postgraduate students according to suggestion given by central university Hyderabad.

      I am stay in Mumbai, Maharashtra. And applied I applied for Telangana postgraduation law common entrance test. And I am from telangana but non local. If I want to take admission over there then its impossible for me to get admission according to the suggestion given by central university of Hyderabad

  11. I feel it’s the need of the hour , the universities should consider the students psychological state and the physical condition they are living in before taking any decision . According to me it’s really stressful as the universities are giving notice of conducting exams anytime after the lockdown in a short notice refocus ridiculous. I am Hoping for a sensible decision from UGC

  12. I am a student of Delhi University, actually from Afghanistan, when I just came across home . We don’t have proper access here.
    The university takes online exams, so what should i do for it. Please pass my msg to them.

  13. Are you thinking only of those students residing in towns and cities and forget about the students living in rural areas. Online classes and online examinations can only be done in towns and cities and not in rural areas. And that too not all students can afford to have all the necessities and online stuffs.. Network is so poor and most of the there’s no electricity. I can say that online classes won’t do for the best of the rest.

  14. So I would like to bring to your notice that not only is one University conducting online exams in such times but also publishing it with pride

  15. Cancellation of examination may well be the way to go if we were in Utopia. Historically, pass certificates in view of a catastrophe translate to loss of employment for that generation. Not conducting exams will result in multitude of issues for the graduating classes. Moreover, a lot of people don’t pass exams and have to retake them in later semesters. Will they be passed as well? If not will they have to wait another year (that too beyond the permitted cycle) to pass their examinations? That is going to seriously harm their career opportunities as well as could induce stress and anxiety. Who will account for that?

  16. Very good suggestion especially the Hyderabad Central University model. Assessment is the key link for learning, as it stands now in the Indian context. Hyderabad model satisfies the need for assessment and the compulsion of the context -Covid -19. Nageswara Rao Committee, appointed by the UGC has given three models for conducting the end-semester exams. The practice being proposed by the Hyderabad CU can be taken as the fourth model for consideration by other Universities with freedom to choose any one of the four, depending upon local conditions. The central point is that assessment should stay to differentiate grain from the chaff.
    a k pattabiraman, Chennai

  17. Horrible ya!!
    Am sitting here infront of my books,but just couldn’t concentrate.Many of friends stay in remote areas,they get so much difficulties getting into online classes due to poor networks.
    I just dont understand that how could one think off studying amidst such a traumatic enivironment..DISGUSTING!!

  18. Agree with your opinion on online exams. The whole online system is a mess, regardless.
    But the whole Average score won’t work for a lot of students.
    What about the students giving board exams? You can’t just cancel their exams midway. Plus not everyone is a scholar since Day 1. Some actually start working hard towards the ends only.
    Similarly, for college students, what about the ones who are in their final year? You can’t just tell them their marks will be based on an average of past performances.
    In my opinion, once situation gets better, we can give exams/projects etc. These marks help people get admission in further PG courses and even jobs!? So no, cancelling exams is not at all an option. Not for final years students as such anyway.

    • Every one is entitled to state their opinion. If you don’t like their views, make your own website and then rant there. 🙂

  19. I agree with you on online exams.
    However, cancelling exams would be disastrous to final year, 10th and 12th grade students.
    Not everyone is a scholar since day 1 and many rely on board exam marks for admissions.
    Similarly, in colleges, especially for final year students, many are dependent on there cgpa to get jobs and admissions to further (PG) courses. How the hell will cancelling exams help them? Maybe do a little more ‘homework’ before writing anything.

    • Rohan , an average of previous 5 semesters is the way to go . As for the importance of cgpa , good students would have been consistent with their marks over the past 5 semesters , therefore average of the marks wouldnt deviate much from the expected results.
      Also , as a third year student from Delhi University , I know for a fact that our university doesnt have the infrastructure to conduct the online exams.


  20. Yes the exams should be cancelled because even teachers are not teaching properly the are just reading the pdf and saying your syllabus is going to be completed and students are getting nothing and Universities are not even asking the students about their situation

  21. Good luck getting the universities agree to this. They’d rather have people fall sick than to not have any exams. Exams are the cornerstone of India’s education. Everything is built around it. While we are talking of students and the universities, we are forgetting about the parents. How will they show off that their kid is a 9 pointer if there are no exams? Good luck getting this done.

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