While this terminology ‘gateway timeout’ indicates that the server, while acting as a gateway, did not get a response in time (terminology being frequently seen while attempting to deal with Delhi University website) similar is the situation of Delhi University students who are not getting any response from the administration even after repeated calls and plea for the cancellation of Open Book Examination for final year students.
Examinations are a crucial part of any education system but exams are not the only part of the overall education system. The present scenario of Covid-19 pandemic has compelled us to rethink about the existence of an individual but here we are fighting for a cause as basic as Right to Education and equality of opportunity!
The decision of conducting online open book examination in Delhi University has somehow proved this university to be extremely exclusionary and elitist in its approach apart from being negligent and indifferent towards the grievances of the student community.
Education is every student’s right, and it is totally understandable that normal classes were impossible in this situation of the pandemic, so the university resorted to online lectures, but it has all been a futile exercise since the overall attendance was very low due to huge digital divide across the country so in this situation where the majority of the students are not even able to attend online classes due to lack of internet facility.
They have no study material at hand and the university expects students to understand academic texts and also give exams in some magical world! It is very sad to hear that the University that prouds itself of its 100-year-old existence is making such inhumane policies with respect to student’s future.
Although there is huge opposition from students and teachers, the university has decided to hold exams for its final year students. The very first day of Delhi University’s mock online open-book exams saw many complaints from hundreds of final-year students. While some faced issues in registering, others were extremely worried when they were allotted incorrect question papers, also it became difficult to upload answer sheets as most of the time the website displayed ‘gateway timeout’.
The insufficient time given to PWD (persons with disabilities) students is extremely worrisome. Several PWD student complained that while they were supposed to be given five hours to attempt the paper but as soon as they downloaded the question paper, the three-hour timer began.
Where there is a huge expectation from central university to be inclusive in its approach and respond to the students’ concerns the administration has completely turned a deaf ear to the problems.
Others complained of problems like not receiving the OTP to login to the website, some complained of the portal displaying ‘invalid, record not found’. Another complaint was related to uploading and submitting the answer sheet files, particularly due to the upper limit of 5 MB per file.
DU provided a common facility centre for people without online resources in their notifications but several students residing in different states complained that the facility centre in charge says that they have not been provided with any such message from the Delhi University which puts forward the claim that there is lack of effective implementation and coordination for the conduction of the exams.
Apart from that, not even a single helpline number has been provided for the student of School of Open Learning (SOL) by the University. While all this is happening, Dean of Examinations Vinay Gupta has simply brushed off the allegations denying that there had been any major problems. Keeping into consideration the ongoing pandemic, Delhi University examinations has created a lot of pressure and havoc among students.
This is a time when students are extremely anxious about their futures and are feeling helpless and the university administration instead of solving the problems has resorted to such kind of examination which is extremely exclusionary and can destroy the future of most of the disadvantaged students. The whole Open book examination is going to be held without any prior preparation with students not having books and readings to prepare for the exams, many students do not even have laptop or android phone, many come from a rural background where internet cafe is not accessible.
Considering all these issues, the university administration should have provided at least some relief to the final year students but what is being seen is that they are adamant on conducting these extremely torturous examinations at the time of the pandemic.
The university should understand that students are in no way denying the fact that exams are necessary for proper evaluation, but evaluation should be fair to each and every student of the university.
While, globally, schools in New York and the United States prepared for online learning by distributing gadgets to their students, ensuring they had access to learning materials, what has our university done for the students? Declared the OBE exam which is a total fiasco?
I really don’t understand why is this formality taking place! Does the DU administration really think that conducting exams in such a manner would reap out any net benefit to the students? Or is it the institutionalized norm that has deeply perpetuated in a way that the officials in administration only have a conformist approach to follow? Whatever be the reasons, the university simply cannot ignore the fact that students and teachers are an important part of the university.
While the university is turning deaf ears to both the communities who have been actively opposing this type of superfluous examination, the major question is who is the university listening to, if not us?
As a matter of fact, many central universities are going in for evaluating students on the basis of their previous examination. Projects and assignment-based assessment mechanisms can be a better alternative. Recently, Visva Bharati University cancelled the exams of final year students. Students would be promoted on the basis of average marks of best two-semester and project work.
One really needs to acknowledge that the higher education system in India continues to suffer due to inadequate access to technology and inequity,. ICT literacy is an important prerequisite for any kind of professional career. The higher education system faces challenge of transformation of curriculum, teaching and learning process to enable students to effectively function in this dynamic, information-rich and continuously changing environment.
The systematic integration of ICT literacy in the university curriculum is not a process that will happen overnight then how does the university expect to conduct such discriminatory examinations?
The larger question here is why is the university so adamant on conducting examinations?
Why is it that even after so many solutions provided by several student organisation, the university is negligent? What are the core values that university should abide by in any case(today being of a pandemic), in the future course of time?
But let’s not forget that we, as a part of the student community, have always stood against any injustice that has taken place against any student, and this time it is extremely necessary to unite and stand against this exclusionary system. Teachers and several student organisations are already putting so much effort, but let’s try for one more time, let’s come in solidarity for one more time, and fight against the unjustifiable system of open-book examinations.
It is the time for all the students and organisations of Delhi University to come together to fight against the injustice that is going to happen in few days in the form of Open Book Examination because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.