HEALTH OVER EXAMS!!

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Lockdown has been a great deal of stress for the students. Especially for those students studying under Pondicherry University. The authorities are not making their decisions clear - on a prediction basis. Yet they tell that students should keep preparing for their examinations. How long are we supposed to keep preparing? Only if their is a proper schedule, will we students be able to plan and prepare accordingly. In addition, students do not have access to material (books); college libraries are closed, hostellers have left their books in the hostel and online material is not sufficient to answer the question paper. Our faculty have not covered all the units as well. Online classes have not been effective at all.


The problems we students face are listed below:

Portions coverage - Most colleges have only covered 3/5 units at max.
Lack of study material - No access to relevant books due to closure of college libraries, online material not available/ contains insufficient information for answering the question paper and in the case of hostellers - these students have left all their books at the hostels. Conducting exams without reopening the college will drastically affect the pass percentage and reputation of Pondicherry University and its affiliated colleges.
Online classes are a waste of time - Online classes aren't as effective as physical classrooms when it comes to learning and clarifying doubts with the teacher. Students who live in areas without or with limited network coverage have difficulties in accessing the online learning platforms. Also, online classes are frustrating - hence teachers don't really want to teach and students don't really want to learn. This is the truth.
Health concerns - Many students study under PondicherryUniversity. A lot of them come from different parts of India and different parts of Tamil Nadu to study in the affiliated colleges. Some of these areas are still classified as the "red zone". Also many colleges have been put to use as corona virus wards. Conducting exams admist this pandemic will put lakhs of lives at risk - there is no guarentee for the safety of students no matter the measures being taken. There will still be possibilties - (that can't be predicted) for the virus to spread. In case exams are conducted, students (mainly hostellers and those who have rented rooms close to their colleges) have to travel back from their home-towns. Travelling and accomodation create a situation where the virus can infect the students. Are conducting exams more important than the health of students?
Family problems - Students may have lost a loved one due to the corona virus or have them admitted at a hospital. There will always be this fear of virus infection among the students. Under such circumstances (mental state of students), how can the government expect students to prepare for their exams.
Time is running - Students have their dreams and ambitions. In the case of final year students, most of them are placed and some wish to pursue higher studies. Results are essential for this purpose. The government may say that " All educational institutions may reopen only when there are zero corona virus cases " - this isn't likely to happen; new cases are coming up everyday. It may take a long time (several months) before the state reports zero cases of the viral infection. This means a loss in carrer growth and academic period for the students. Also the government keeps extending the lockdown - It is a bitter truth that this has made everyone especially the students very lazy and not wan't to study at all. It is completely demotivating. It would not be wise to conduct exams in such a time. The government can't keep playing with the academic life and career of students. They will have to confirm their decision soon.
Exam schedule - If the government conduts exams, they should roll out the timetable a month before - then only can students plan and prepare for their exams. A sudden announcement of exams with only a few days left for preparation (along with the above reasons) will definetly induce mental stress on students.
We suggest the following ways to tackle the above problems :

Promote all students - Promote student of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd years to the next year. In the case of final year students, declare them with a degree. This promotion should be done based on the internal assessment marks or previous semester marks. This first reason is efficient, feasible and practical.
Open book examination - In case the government wants to conduct exams, they can follow the open book approach. This can be taken from home. For students who do not have the relevant books, the should be given the freedom to search the internet. Answers can be written, scanned and uploaded to a dedicated portal.
If the institution has the necessary infrastructure, online exams may be conducted. However most students won't be in favour of this approach.
Students feedback - Pondicherry University should conduct a survey on the sudents to find out their difficulties (and also their suggestions) in writing the exams. Based on this, fair decisions should be taken. The survey can be taken with the help of google forms.
As mentioned before, such a situation has induced mental stress in several students. We keep checking the news feed everyday for proper notice from the government. Again and again, we humbly request our government to promote all years ( including Final Years) based on their internal performance or past semester results. Conducting an open book exam (with relevant information from the internet) in such a time is also recommended. The results are essential for enrolling into higher studies or starting a career. And Pondicherry University should follow the UGC guidelines. Is it necessary to conduct exams for mentally affected students ( who are uncertain of their future) in such a pandemic? We hope that the government heeds to our plea and makes the right decision. Thank you