As the long drawn battles of compulsory attendance have garnered attention, with the University and several of its colleges using online applications that can monitor attendance, we stand with the students, reiterating the fact that compulsory attendance never fulfills its purpose.
Several research studies have shown that mandatory attendance does not increase academic success rates. A highly cited article, “A Case Against Compulsory Class Attendance Policies in Higher Education”, published in the Innovative Higher Education journal, examined the research literature on the relationship between attendance and academic achievements. The article inferred that compulsory attendance does not ensure a higher academic grade. The article claimed that attendance is linked to individual motivation, noting, ‘Classroom environments that engage students, emphasise the importance of students’ contributions, and have content directly related to knowledge assessed will undoubtedly provide encouragement to students to attend regularly.’
Students who pursue higher education often aspire to learn from subject experts who can help them not only understand the concepts and ideas of the subject, but also who can engage them in meaningful conversations. On the contrary, a teacher simply reading out texts from the prescribed reading in a monotonous voice never incentivises learning. Moreover, coercing students into attending such classes, where there is no learning incentive, makes the concept of a university highly redundant. In today’s world, where lectures by the world’s best teachers are available online for free and students can learn the subject from the comfort of their homes, the universities need to innovate ways that will motivate students to attend classes.
As students of the regressive school education system that restrains individuality, and as children brought up within the institution of a family where questioning the elders is considered as a sign of disrespect, many students find university to be a safe haven where they can pursue their dreams without any restrictions. Isn’t inculcating the spirit of freedom the very objective of education?
A system which priorities our physical presence over our willingness to learn goes against the inherent spirit of our education. In a time when the University is unable to fill up its permanent faculty positions and provide outstation students with proper accommodation, the step of spending lakhs of rupees to create an application that will monitor the attendance of students displays an extreme case of misplaced priorities. If colleges actually taught students what is relevant, they would not have to coerce them to attend classes. The University should spend its resources on providing for opportunities like the innovation projects and the gyanodaya trips, rather than spending lakhs on monitoring the mere physical presence of students in the classrooms.