Delhi University’s plans to hold online examinations in light of the nationwide lockdown and social distancing have come under fire from the Deans and Teachers.
The nationwide lockdown and social distancing rules mean that even if the lockdown were to be eased, examinations would not be possible. Under these circumstances, Delhi University (DU) has been exploring other options, tasking the Delhi University Computer Center (DUCC) with evaluating the feasibility of conducting online examinations. The deans and teachers, however, have criticised the plans that were supposedly discussed in a meeting of the deans of various departments, senior university officials and the Dean of Examinations, Vinay Gupta over video conferencing.
DU Executive Council member, Rajesh Jha claimed to know the details of the suggestions made in the meeting with the plan being for students to send a 20-minute clip in which four questions were to be answered. It was said that officials suggested eight questions are sent to students and they would have to answer four of them by uploading a five-minute video clip in response. Jha called the proposal a “complete mockery of higher education” and has not been alone in voicing his disapproval for the suggestion. Deans of several University departments were said to have termed this form of examination “practically impossible” and “not feasible”. A professor who was a part of the meeting claimed the following: “Deans said many of the students live in areas where there are connectivity issues and many of them might be good in writing but not fluent in speaking. The mode of examination will not test a student properly.”
Jha belongs to the Academics For Action and Development (AAD), a Congress-supported teachers group that also voiced concern over the “arbitrary and authoritarian proposal of the university administration for online examinations”. The group also claimed that the submission of answers in the oral clips would be made through a third-party platform, which DU officials have denied, saying “We are only exploring how online examinations can be conducted in DU, since this hasn’t been done before. Even if the lockdown is removed, social distancing measures will still be in force, so we won’t be able to hold physical exams”. The AAD, however, said the suggestions showed the “scant understanding of essence of evaluation in higher education and its utter disregard for students’ interest”. It also claimed that “In the name of exigency of COVID pandemic, reforms are being thrust by UGC-MHRD to pave way for the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2019, aiming at privatisation, contract basis and online education”.
The AAD and others have called into question the feasibility citing reasons such as access to the internet and a smart-phone, difficulties in submission and evaluation as well as the chances of tampering and unfair means. “In the background of digital divide and 3/4th of our students coming from socially and economically weaker sections, the online proposition is against the basic principles of equity and social justice” stated the AAD.
Featured Image Credits: Tashi Dorjay Sherpa for DU Beat
Tashi Dorjay Sherpa