June and July are usually the time for results of board and semester exams to come, and for admissions to happen. This time it is different. We are reeling under tremendous pressure of having to accept this new normal and work accordingly. Hither and thither we are simply fixing the new problems which have arisen and trying to adjust to them. Confusion and chaos prevail everywhere as every day has a new situation, and in response to that, something new comes up.
Utmost confusion, of late, has been noticed in the education sector. Indian population is young. India has a student (higher education) population of approx. 37 million. The education sector seems to be the most confused one. They cannot be directly blamed for this scenario. The pandemic has hit them hard. No fixed exam dates, no proper syllabus, final papers got cancelled, careers are hung, postponement on the postponement, new exam routines appear and then again disappear surprisingly from official websites leaving the students in utter tension. No proper coordination between state and central education ministries. Entrance exams stood on hold. More the rise in the number of Covid-19 positive cases, the more is the flip-flopping of decisions. Loopholes are quite in numbers to be listed.
As time pass by, the education system is running short of all the procedures to be completed fairly to take new admissions and end one course. Primary schools decided to upgrade their wards to their respective next class both in the private and the government mediums. The main problem is facing by the Secondary and Higher studies students. Dates upon dates are put out but yet no rigid dates finalized for exams to occur.
The final year/semester students’ fate is at a stake now. Some boards and universities have decided to calculate the final CGPA based on earlier semester marks and internal assessments like in the case of Maharashtra government, while some are still waiting for the situation to get normal. This decision to pass the students based on marks secured in the earlier exams remained almost unanimous for the 1st year and the even semester students except for the final year/semester students. For the final year, some government and universities have gone with this decision like the above mentioned Maharashtra government, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh government and also the Haryana government.
The ongoing months being the peak time for getting admitted to new colleges and courses, Delhi University (DU) is trying to do the same. Had the situations been normal, second or third cut-off lists would have been released by now. But, now since the entire process is delayed, final board results are not declared, the admission process also got delayed accordingly. By the demand of Covid-19, everything has to be turned to online mode. So, DU has asked its students to register themselves for admission into different UG, PG, M.Phil and other diploma courses in different colleges under DU and the entire form fill-up process is in the online medium.
As this process kick starts, many technical glitches have surfaced up. DU being the apex body of higher study in the country is again making the headlines because of its entire admission process and the introduction of the “OBE” system. OBE is the ‘Open Book Examination’ which is all set to start from July 10.
This is the first of its kind exam which the DU has adopted. Students are asked to appear in this exam for time being and if they are not satisfied with the outcome they can reappear in the physical exam which is scheduled to be held at the end of September. As reported, only 25% of the final year students could register themselves for the mock tests. The mock tests were supposed to have had held from the 4 to 8 of July 2020, and the main exam will start from July 10.
Technical glitches are creating hindrance in the OBE test. Official websites are crashing and it is taking time to upload the scanned images. The websites are pretty slow. The students are complaining that the sites cannot bear the load of such a huge number of answer scripts. The OTP and pin generation processes are causing issues for some students. Students aren’t been able to find their specific (Hons.) question papers in the sites. Some subjects are also not providing mock tests.
Genuine questions mistakenly got shuffled from the respective subject to the others and thus question papers of different subjects got mixed up. On top of that, the connectivity issue is hammering on their heads. As we all know that students have gone back to their native places once the lockdown was declared. So, in their native places which are in Jammu and Kashmir, where the network connection is 2G, or in some North-Eastern hilly regions where net connectivity is poor, how can we think of the students to appear in the OBE students?
Reports have also come from students who are currently staying in the containment zones and they cannot come out from their places to a cyber cafe to upload their pictures. Assam, in particular, is under floods and so it is very obvious for the students to face difficulty in sitting for the OBE. The students are also complaining of the fact that the time slot allocated to them is also too less as maximum time is spent on uploading the images.
The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) has been opposing the whole system. They are receiving approx. 1500 mails and messages regarding their issues from the students daily. The NSUI has also filed a court case regarding the OBE system and pointing out their defects but, unfortunately, the decision is yet to come on July 9, before the main final exam starts.
Now, let’s come to the new admission process. Last dates got extended as the CBSE class 12 results are not yet out. New result dates upon new dates and hence deadlines got an extension. Some are complaining of the fact that they are unable to manage the PWD certificates for both the private and public health sectors are totally collapsed for this kind of issues.
Students are also unable to provide the EWS certificate because the main inclination of the general administration is towards the Covid-19 situation. Some pupils are facing problems regarding the scholarship forms. Again, a very different decision has been taken by DU this year.
In the Extracurricular activities (ECA) category admission, there will be no trials held for performing arts and sports. Only certificates will be considered for this purpose as reported. The varsity has come up with the logic that if trials are to be held then it won’t be able to maintain the social distancing norms. When the Puri Annual Rath Yatra can be permitted by the Supreme Court to celebrate following the proper guidelines, then why can’t the trials?
Danseuse Sonal Mansingh and Geeta Chandran addressed a letter to the Vice President of India appealing that the trials should be allowed to hold following adequate measures of safety. Otherwise, this would be a matter of discrimination. As of now, I have tried to highlight these many issues of exams and admission process of DU. I totally feel that the cooperation and coordination of both UGC and HRD should be unanimous, and they should be supportive of each other.
However, it must be mentioned that both the bodies are working day and night for the better future of the students but it also must be kept in mind that one simple mistake can simply ruin the lives of the students. Students’ lives do matter the most to us. Their lives are already vulnerable and I hope and pray that due to minute carelessness their vulnerability is not magnified.