With the Open Book Examinations (OBE) looming around the corner, there is a sense of uncertainty and apprehension as the DU administration showcases exactly how little it cares about its students.
The University of Delhi (DU) introduced OBE as a way of conducting examinations for its final year students in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The OBE guidelines, however, were made extremely unachievable. For a student demographic as diverse as DU’s, the concept of an exam dependent largely on online resources is not a sustainable model. Various student and teacher collectives rose up against this idea of OBE. This included the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) and the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA). As a result of the massive inaccessibility of these online examinations and the uproar, the University Grants Commission (UGC) was advised by the HRD Minister to revisit the proposal of online examinations. However, the DU administration has continued to remain largely insensitive to the plight of its students.
The varsity has- so far- refused to cancel these examinations for its final year students. This decision has caused an uproar on all social media platforms. Students and teachers have taken to Facebook and Twitter and trended hashtags to show their outrage and disappointment aimed at this poorly applied examination proposal. Different student, teacher, and parent bodies have also taken out different forms of protests in the form of Twitter Storms and Mass emailing to the Vice-Chancellor and HRD Minister. But all this has been to no avail.
In the spike of covid 19 almost every locality has covid cases in these conditions, where an invisible sword hanging upon you ,how can you even think du that we can give exams!#Duagainstonlineexams
— Vaishali Gupta (@Vaishal43309019) June 26, 2020
My friend informed me that she looked up for CSCs in the town she lives in, a little away from the main city Guwahati. She found two of them exisiting and both are shut down. Lockdown is still on going in Assam and Bengal! How are we supposed to arrange the minimum requirements?
— Proiti Das (@ProitiD) June 26, 2020
The issue isn’t as simple as the individual unavailability of the internet. Yes, it does constitute a large part of the problem. However, a major issue arises due to the shoddy guidelines and arrangements made by the university to equip its students for this concept of an open book examination. With the closing of institutions due to the pandemic and the uncertainty of the conduction of examinations, a lot of colleges in the varsity rushed to complete their syllabus in an inefficient and haphazard manner. This led to a semester of uneven teaching and a poorly completed curriculum, a half-completed curriculum, or courses that saw the conduction of no online classes at all.
I didn’t received my Admit card passcode till now
No info about mock tests.
No info about the no. Of sets in exams
No study material
No video lectures as said my university admin. @UnivofDelhi #DUagainstdiscrimination #duagainstonlineexams #ScrapOBE#DUagainstdiscrimination
— Adarsh Sharma (@AdarshS65567736) June 24, 2020
The varsity, in turn, has failed to acknowledge not just this issue, but also that of the inaccessibility of the proposed online classes, resources, and assignments to a huge portion of its student population. This refusal to acknowledge and reward privilege isn’t the only flaw of the administration- the varsity has left its students blindsided. With no practice tests or suggested pattern provided for these examinations, students have been left to explore these unchartered territories all by themselves. This is especially cruel considering that the future of a lot of these final year students heavily relies upon these examinations.
DU must acknowledge its students’ declining mental health due to Covid-19, the constant quarantine, the unavailability of online and offline resources (books, notes, etc.), the varied family dynamics that people live with, and the uncertainty of our future! #DuAgainstOnlineExam pic.twitter.com/VxclYaXZo0
— Kritika Alka Chauhan (@KritikaChauhan_) June 26, 2020
Elected members of the Executive Council and Academic Council have also written to DU’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Yogesh Tyagi, demandingimmediate scrapping of the OBE. In the letter published for all to see, the council members urged the VC to consider the discriminatory factors of the OBE. They urged the withdrawal of the notification and datesheet for OBEs, and instead look for more viable options being adopted by universities in India and abroad, and to take this decision in a timely manner so that results for all students can be declared by 31st July. This letter- published by the DUTA President Rajib Ray on Facebook- garnered hundreds of comments by students, all asking for a withdrawal of the OBE.
Elected members of the Executive Council and Academic Council write to the Vice Chancellor today demanding immediate…Publiée par Rajib Ray sur Jeudi 25 juin 2020
Though the university has postponed the OBE to ten days after its proposed date of 1st July 2020, it is still to withdraw it completely. The OBE and its mismanagement by the varsity’s administration is perhaps an ideal example of how unequipped one of India’s major public universities is when it comes to dealing with an unprecedented situation. The university has always boasted its diverse student population. Its refusal to put down its rose-tinted glasses and view the plight of its lesser fortunate students in its entirety is shameful, to say the least. It is time for the university to take accountability and factor in the conditions of all of its demographic, and not keep itself mesmerized by only the privileged.