Forgo end semester exams for safety and security of students

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UNPREPAREDNESS
The first thing I would like to address is “unpreparedness”.

I don’t think any university was prepared for such chaotic times.

• The curriculum and syllabus took a bad hit. Some colleges have not completed even 50% of their syllabus and according to the academic calendar, their semester is already over. Some have not even started online classes.

• The colleges which started online classes at the right time, do you think the quality of the delivered lectures, assignments and others which happened for the first time when they were not ever ready were as smooth as in the cases of regular classes?

• And how many colleges or lecturers adhered to a fixed timing?

Given such conditions, how many students could/would have attended the lectures meticulously and with proper concentration? So how many students can take up exams effectively?

Moreover, many students do not have access to equipment like scientific calculators and data books since they left it in their college dorms before the lockdown was in effect. Now, they cannot even buy the necessary tools to effectively write the examinations.

NETWORK & OTHER ISSUES
Now this is a huge problem for most students. Most of us are running out of data from online classes. And those students that live in rather remote areas of the state already have poor network.

How can they take the risk of attending online examinations from their homes when they don’t even have a proper connection? Sometimes refreshing the page can end up being chaotic in the middle of the examination.

Ok, let's assume that the problem of network and data is solved. But we still have the problems that are unique to each online education platform and this takes us to the next issue of “Risks in online/offline exams”.

RISKS IN ONLINE & OFFLINE EXAMS
I have personally faced a problem while giving my internal test. We had to write an “online” test on paper in a limited time, scan it and upload it in an application. Neither the students nor the lecturer knew that there was an upper limit to the size of the file that could be uploaded and many of us couldn’t upload the scanned documents. However, because it was an internal test, it got resolved easily since we spoke to the lecturer personally.

But what if something like this happens during the final exams? There won't be any way to address this issue and many students would get arrears despite having prepared their best.

So, does this mean that offline exams are the way to go? NO. What assurance do we have that a second wave of pandemic will not arise soon after the lockdown is lifted? Are exams in these times so important that we forgo our safety and sit in the exam halls among many others when social distancing is what's saving us till now? Furthermore, to attend the offline exams, many students have to travel from far away cities and states putting themselves in greater risk than ever.

ECONOMY, COLLEGE FEES & MORE
Now, this is the most difficult part - “Economy, college fee and more”. The economy is falling, unemployment is rising and parents of the students are having a difficult time earning money. Despite all this, we are obliged to pay 100% of the college fee even though the colleges are saving lot on electricity, maintenance and so on.

So, to combat this, many students are now lending a handing to their parents to help make ends meet. Whilst doing odd jobs, struggling to pay pills and fees, colleges expect students to conveniently give CGPA-defining examinations!?

SOLUTION

So, is there any solution? The answer is YES. The UGC has already issued guidelines to tackle such scenarios. So we request all colleges to pass the students based on the Internal Marks of the present semester and performance of students in the previous semester for the safety, security and benefit of all the students and their families.

CONCLUSION
So, are exams so important that some colleges just won't budge and are persistent on conducting exams even after UGC has provided their advisory guidelines which the university can very well follow? Or are exams so important, not for the students but for the college, that safety and well-being of the students can be put at risk?

Who will be held responsible if students face connectivity issue during online exams? Who should be held responsible if any student(s) get(s) affected by COVID-19 because of offline exams?

We are all in this together. So, if you agree with me then please take few minutes to sign the petition.