Since the last few months, the most trending word which we hear in every discussion is the Coronavirus. No discussion can end without talking about it and the situation is terrifying with India now taking its tally to the third most affected nation from this pandemic. This pandemic has forced the world to change its conventional way of working in all aspects and nothing is normal anymore.
But the recent guidelines by UGC to conduct final year examinations by the end of September put an apprehension that all is well. We are at a time when the topmost priority for any one of us is our lives and our safety is the only way to ensure that we stay alive. Though UGC while issuing the guidelines suggested few Statement of Procedure (SOP) to ensure the safety of students. But their own VC was seen in a media discussion stating that there is no guarantee of safety.
This is similar to what the students and parents are saying from the beginning but it appears that UGC and its affiliates are ready to take the risk. When someone takes risks with the lives of students, the outcomes can be understood from the case of Karnataka where the more than 30 students tested positive after appearing for board examinations.
Reading the UGC guidelines will make one understand that while deciding, the panel entirely snubbed the other critical factors like transportation services which are still not operating at a normal mode and even if they are, the safety protocols are not full proof. Rail and air services are yet to resume and most of the students are at their homes and making them return in this alarming pandemic situation is another great challenge.
In the guidelines, the UGC has also provided the option of an online examination but this is yet another example of bigwig illusions under which UGC is immersed. The internet infrastructure in this time is already overburdened and many areas, especially rural India, are not accurately connected to internet services. This makes the idea of online examinations unreliable and that too in a nation like India where a student takes away his life just because they were unable to attend online classes due to unavailability of digital device.
This is not the story of only a single student. There are thousands of students who suffer similar hindrances when the government tries to push for digital education without ensuring the availability of resources and infrastructure. This can be well understood from the fact that this month when Delhi University attempted to conduct mock test online, this exercise flopped poorly where the students encountered several glitches. If this can happen in Delhi, then imagine the scenario of other cities, towns and remote villages where internet connectivity is a distant dream.
UGC believes that final year examinations are essential to evaluate students and to ensure that the quality of education remains good.
Had examinations ensured the quality of graduates, then we would not have had more than 80% of our graduates unqualified for employability in the job market.
It doesn’t mean that examination system to evaluate students should be entirely discarded but what is vital to understand is that we are going through tough times and difficult times require easy procedures.
Pushing for the traditional way to evaluate students is impractical right now and so other alternatives to evaluate students should be explored where an evaluation would be easy for students thereby reducing the level of stress they are facing in this time of a pandemic. The UGC must put their ears on the ground and allow students to make their career in an easy way instead of paving a way for corona and stress to hit students.
Don’t gamble with their lives at a time when lives have become the most valuable thing in this world.
This examination obsession during this difficult times must be put on hold for some time.