The Students Federation of India (SFI), Delhi along with 9 other organisations protested outside the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), demanding cancellation of Open Book Examinations (OBE) for final-year students and supplementary exams for those who wanted to improve grades.
On 31st July 2020, the SFI, protested at the MHRD and submitted a memorandum demanding cancellation of OBE.
This is for the third time that the SFI submitted a memorandum demanding the promotion of all Final year students and cancellation of their exams. The delegation was led by Sumit Kataria, the President of SFI along with 9 other student organisations. These mainly included Pinjra Tod, Democratic Students’ Union (DSU), Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS), Disha and others.
The memorandum stated that the plan to conduct OBE was an exclusionary step and would demarcate the caste and class boundaries sharply. The Federation threw light on the increasing usage of online non-classroom teaching methods which was a part of systematic privatisation. It also stated that the OBE was an expansion of the already existing privatisation model including the NITI Aayog’s Vision Documents and the New Education Policy of 2019.
“Protests against OBE have been going on for a long time both online and offline and several memorandums were submitted, twitter storms etc. were all conducted, but the authorities remained silent. This time they physically manhandled the protestors and detained some of them. We have also seen how Police visited our office to arrest SFI Delhi State President for discussing a protest in a closed WhatsApp group. This has crossed all limits, but we’re determined to continue the struggle till our demands are met.”said Sooraj Elamon, Hindu College Student, SFI Delhi State Committee Member to DU Beat
The press release statement of SFI Delhi highlighted that during the protests, a journalist of HNP news named Dharmveer Gautam was detained at the Parliament Street Police Station. He was later released after deleting the video he had captured. As per reports, many protesters were manhandled, abused and threatened by the police at MHRD.
The memorandum stated that the Delhi University (DU) had already outsourced the web portal services to Amazon Web Services. Despite the privatisation, the students faced problems as the internet connection required a minimum of 4G network to access services. SFI also informed that the Common Service Centres (CSCs) were designed to resolve the students’ problems. However, some CSCs weren’t even aware that the exams were supposed to be held there.
“It is extremely saddening to see an authority that bears the responsibility to make education a good experience for students turn into hounders…students have repeatedly brought to attention what their concerns are, but at this point, the officials are being quite obvious about their agendas that they do not care for the marginalized students. Rather they represent the status quo”says Sumit Kataria, President, SFI Delhi in the Press release
The press release informed about a telephonic conversation that the Federation had with Amit Khare, the Human Resources Development (HRD) secretary. Reportedly, Khare said that the matter was still inside the court and they couldn’t do anything.
SFI stated that the University Grants Commission ( UGC) and MHRD continue to release circulars, notices and guidelines but refuse to entertain the students’ plea. The Federation also cited an example of State Governments who had cancelled the examinations.
“Students have been forced on to the streets by the intransigence of the MHRD officials who refuse to respond, acknowledge or address the numerous issues with regard to online examination. SFI has been at the forefront of this fight from the initial stage of its proposal and shall continue to uphold the interests of students with vigour.”quotes SFI Delhi’s Press-Release Statement
The federation made a call for students to join forces and resist the arbitrary impositions that were anti-student in nature. The Federation and other organisations demanded an absolute termination of final year exams both in offline and online mode. It said that the results should be declared through an aggregate of previous semester results. It also added that supplementary examinations should be held for those students who would wish to improve their scores, once the campuses reopen.
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