A final year student has written to the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court raising concerns over the guidelines issued by UGC on July 6, 2020 which allowed the Universities/ Institutions to conduct terminal semester(s)/final year examinations by the end of September, 2020 in offline/online/blended mode.
The letter written by Anshritha Rai raises concerns of the safety of millions of final year students and their families, invigilators, evaluators, transport authorities, support staff and several other key stakeholders, either directly or indirectly, involved in the examination process.
Highlighting the plight of the large section of students that reside either in different parts of India or in other countries, the letter reads,
“UGC has provided universities the option to conduct exams in either an offline (pen and paper) or online or blended (offline + online) mode. Online mode of examinations, however, neglects socio-economic diversity and inequality of internet access. Likewise, holding physical examinations has its own glaring set of shortcomings. Whether the offline or online or blended mode is adopted, there are a myriad number of practical, technological and institutional difficulties that are sure to be encountered.”
The letter also highlights that the cases in India are rising exponentially and as on date, there are easily over 7,60,000 cases. As per AIIMS data, India could witness a peak in COVID-19 cases as late as in mid-November.
It further states that soon after the UGC Guidelines were released, the Maharashtra Government unequivocally reiterated its inability to hold final year examinations in a letter addressed to the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Moreover, UGC itself has cancelled all intermediate examinations. UGC’s guidelines, which mandatorily require final year students to appear for examinations by September end, is arbitrary and in blatant disregard of the fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution.
“It is highly regretful that an arbitrary distinction is being drawn between intermediate and final year students. If this exercise were to be carried out, the lives of all final year students pan India would be put in grave peril. This is evinced by the recent Karnataka SSLC exam fiasco where 32 students tested positive.”
Rai, in her letter, also states that there is a need for reforming the education system. She states,
“The unabated focus on mandating university exams and sticking to traditional patterns is indicative of the flaws in our higher education system. Our strict examination-oriented culture has frequently come under fire for failing to develop practical skills and critical reasoning. Credibility and intellectual prowess has little to no connection with examination grades.”
By way of this letter, the student has requested the Chief Justice to resolve the issue of terminal examinations and to bring much needed clarity about the evaluation method.
Read the full text of the letter here
Read the details of UGC’s revised guidelines on conduct of final year exams here