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Dealing With The ‘Glitches’ In DU’s Online Exam And Admission Process

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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.

college students in line for admission
Representational image.

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.

Representational image.

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.

Representational image.

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.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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