Wednesday saw an outpour of students raising concerns over the UGC guidelines in an online protest.
Following a call from various student organisations, 29th July was marked as ‘All India Protest Day’ with students taking to social media to voice their concerns and make demands to the University Grants Commission (UGC). Along with several posts on Facebook and Instagram, a Twitter storm was also executed with the hashtags #CancelPendingExams
#StudentsInSCAgainstUGC #studentslivesMatter #WithdrawUGCGuidelines trending. Students voiced certain demands other than the complete cancellation of all examinations during the pandemic, which has been the central issue.
The online protest is a part of ongoing demands from students to the UGC and Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). On Monday, 27th July 2020, members of the student wing of the Communist Party of India- SFI protested against the issue of online examinations in front of the MHRD. They also wrote a letter to Human Resource’s minister Ramesh Pokhriyal demanding immediate cancellation of all exams due to the ongoing COVID pandemic. Delhi University (DU) students have been severely affected as students struggle to prepare themselves for the Online Open Book Exam (OBE) that was scheduled to take place in early July but has been continued to be postponed. The ‘Mock OBE’ exam also raised more concerns as several students faced difficulties in registering themselves or accessing the Exam Portal.
Also demanded was a fair and credible system for the evaluation of marks that would be based on previous marks and Internal Assessments (IA) for the final year students. Difficulties faced by final year students in preparing for the examinations have continued with many students complaining of the lack availability of material, no proper access to a stable internet, technical glitches and other problems. Students of the Persons with Disability (PWD) category were faced with additional issues as there were no measures to assist them in completing the mock exam and it is to be seen whether they will be able to partake in the OBE.
On the 6th July, the UGC and MHRD issued their ‘Standard Operating Procedure’ (SOP) wherein it was decided that the end semester examination would be conducted by 30th September 2020 in universities across India. (https://dubeat.com/2020/07/ugc-issues-revised-guidelines-regarding-examinations-and-upcoming-academic-session/) The online protest called for this notification to be scrapped altogether. In a statement from July 8th, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has also asked that “DU Administration must stop playing with future of students” and opt for an “assignment-based evaluation.”
A total of 31 students from different universities across India have approached the Supreme Court to take up the matter of the UGC circular directing universities to wrap up final year examinations. The Supreme Court said it seeks reply from the UGC the pleas challenging its circular and seeking the cancellation of final-year examinations. The Court has also instructed the UGC to file the reply by 29th July with the matter set to be heard on 31st July.
Picture Credits: The Quint
Tashi Dorjay Sherpa