Amidst digital divide and furthering inequality the University Grants Commission (UGC) has expressed its concerns with relation to online mode as alternative.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) hints towards the incapability of the country’s potential in resorting to online mode of examinations for all of its university students, as such a means appears to be a distant prospect in all likelihood.
A seven member committee headed by R.C. Kuhad, Vice Chancellor, Haryana University was formed by UGC in the previous week to dive into the matters of academic sessions and examinations of higher education. This committee has expressed it’s qualms over India’s lack of resources and infrastructure, when it comes to conducting online exams. The alternative of online exams came in the first place due to the postponement of final exams by the majority of Central Universities in wake of prevention from the widespread contamination of the COVID-19.
“We have received some serious concerns and various suggestions regarding holding exams, and we are working towards finding a solution,” said R.C. Kuhad in a statement made to The Print. The committee has supposedly submitted their report to the government on 13th April 2020. The theme of the discussion is more on further postponement of exams until future clarification than on online exam conduction.
An official told The Print while highlighting the lack of confidence in online exams as a prospect alternative, “Online examinations in universities look like a remote possibility, because we do not have a mechanism of conducting exams through online mode. Also, there are many students who are in rural areas, or areas that do not have proper access to facilities. How will they be able to write exams?” The official further added, “These are the questions that the committee is dealing with, and is tilting against the idea of having online exams. What they are looking at, instead, is suggesting that the universities conduct exams after June, once the schools and colleges are open. We also agree with the idea that universities are not capable of holding online examinations.
Statements retrieved from The Print where another UGC official expressed lack of confidence in infrastructure and questioned, “How will the universities make sure students are not cheating sitting at home? How will they ensure this facility is not misused? There are a lot of concerns that the stakeholders will have to look at.”
The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) also reiterated similar concerns in a statement issued on Sunday saying, “Online education models cannot be a substitute to regular classroom teaching. It does not work in a country where internet connectivity and smartphones are limited to a class of students only.”
The Akhil Bharatiya Rashtriya Shaikshik Mahasangh (ABRSM), an RSS-affiliated teacher’s body also gave suggestions to the UGC regarding- prioritising the examinations of final semester students of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and also avoiding of mass promotion of students to next semester without exams.
Agnitra Ghosh, an assistant professor at department of Journalism of Kamala Nehru College, expressed his concerns to DU Beat, saying,”The idea of online examination, we believe, is not at all viable and discriminatory, especially for students from deprived backgrounds. While we are taking online lectures, there are several issues like problems with connectivity, threats to privacy etc.”. He further added, “As soon as the university reopens, the examination should take place after completing the teaching process (internal assessment etc).”
“There are more than nine lakh students in Delhi University who are waiting to write their exams. Keeping their future in mind, we have begun preparations for conducting online exams. But we are still awaiting directions from UGC to go ahead with the plan,” Vinay Gupta, Dean of Examinations at DU, said as reported by The Print.
This move of proceeding with the online exams in Delhi University is opposed by teacher’s bodies like DUTA and student bodies like the KYS. A majority of Universities are waiting for the UGC to signal guidelines which as of date are not very convinced about the potential of the conduct of online methods.
Feature Image Credit: DU Beat Archives