On 22nd June, All India Students’ Association (AISA) held an online press conference against online Open Book Exams in Delhi University (DU) during the current health crisis.
In parallel to the ongoing uproar around Open Book Examinations, scheduled in the month of July for the terminal year students of the DU, All India Students’ Association (AISA) on 22nd organized an ‘online press conference against examination mechanisms pursued by Delhi University.’ Various student organizations and teachers from University of Delhi were also a part of the conference and highlighted the issues of conducting online exams. Professors Satish Deshpande, Nandita Narain, and N. Sukumar were the speakers at the conference.
The conference was hosted by AISA National President N Sai Balaji. Prof.Satish Deshpande, one of the speakers, highlighted the absolute arbitrariness of any examination in a situation like the present. He also called attention to the point that exams right now will only help in maintaining social hierarchies and baseless meritocracy. Prof. Nandita Narain addressed the non – democratic working of DU in taking the online OBE decision. No statutory bodies or student bodies were consulted before announcing the decision, a concerning fact that has been raised since the decision was reached. Prof. N. Sukumar reflected upon the inequalities that this method of assessment will promote, proving to be disadvantageous especially for the SC/ST/OBC communities, women students and differently abled students.Additionally, AISA activists Damni Kain and Jayant spoke about the inaccessibility of online exams for PwD (Person with Disabilities) students due to the lack of technology and braille script books and also the social, cultural elements like gender, caste and class that have not been acknowledged by the administration. Sakib, a Kashmiri student, brought to light the ordeals online OBE means for the students from the valley, which is still suffering a blackout, with the availability of only 2G internet.
Various surveys conducted by colleges, university departments, DUTA and student organizations, have revealed a common conclusion that online OBE is not a viable alternative to the conventional offline mode of examination. Concerns regarding non-completion of syllabus, insufficient teaching, unavailability of books, notes and other study materials, along with constraints like inaccessibility of means necessary for online OBE have been raised. Online protests and campaigns such as twitter storms were also organized to express dissent over the decision. The conference reached at the consensus of introduction of alternative marking system. Prof Satish, Nandita and Sukumar reiterated the arbitrariness of taking any exams right now and suggested the alternative of promoting students on previous averages as well as taking into account the current internal assessments. Moreover, it was adjudicated that DU must involve the stakeholders into the decision making processes and come to an agreement with students and teachers.
Other than the speakers and AISA members, students from organisations like Students’ Federation of India (SFI), Collective, Pinjratod, Krantikari YuvaSangathan (KYS) etc.,also talked about problems of visually impaired, women, Dalit, Kashmiri, and Hindi medium students. Student representatives such as SumitKataria, SFI, Ankan, Collective, Brijesh, CLC Students Union, Harish, KYS, Ravinder, BSCEM, Aastha, Pinjratod, Saqib, a Kashmiri student, and others also shared their views on the importance of collectively fighting against the blatant commercialization of education and the broadening of the digital divide. The detainment of students and teachers who were protesting against the online OBE, outside the Arts Faculty on June 22 was also condemned. AISA resolved to take the movement forward through different online and offline protests, including Twitter storm of ‘#PromoteStudentsWithoutExams’ on the same day.
With the outrage against online OBE increasing in intensity every day along with worrying spike in coronavirus cases all over the country, theUniversity Grants Commission (UGC) has also resolved to revise its examination guidelines. On speaking to DamniKain, AISA’s Executive Committee Member and Presidential Candidate for Delhi University Student Union (DUSU) she says, “After multiple student protests over a span of more than 2 months, a UGC panel has recommended cancellation of exams. All this while through various methods students have tried to convey their inability to have an online exam. This was done through mass- mailing, video- placard protests and twitter storms, press conferences and with joint efforts from teachers and students. Our demands are clear; now that even UGC has made the recommendations then, the DU Admin should not take more time in passing the order for cancellation of exams for final year students as well. More than 5 states have already cancelled it. Any delay will add confusion and stress for students since they do not have any clarity even till date. The times are tough due to the pandemic and its ripple effects on various fronts can be clearly seen. The least the education department can do is to help students maintain their mental health and to not pressurize them unnecessarily.”
Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archive
The image is used for representative purposes only.