“Due to non-receipt of any response or clarification from the MHRD, the state government and state public universities are in a dillema regarding conduct of UG and PG term examinations. Students and parents have become very anxious and restless due to such uncertainty and are contacting us in large numbers over telephone to know whether they should start preparing for the examinations or not,” said Sahoo in his second letter to MHRD.
The Odisha minister said Covid-19 situation in the country has worsened in the last 15 days. The situation is most likely to aggravate further in the coming months. He has given eight reasons against holding final term examinations in the state.
Sahoo explained that the number of UG and PG final semester/year students in Odisha is about 2 lakh. Most of them belong to low and middle income group and do not have laptop/desktop or a decent smartphone at home. Most of them also stay in rural areas not having reliable internet connection. “Therefore, conducting online examination for such a large number of students simply is not possible,” he added.
The letter stated that conducting physical examination will expose the students, college and university staff and their family members to the risk of Covid-19. It is not possible on the part of the students to come to their colleges due to lack of wide public transport facilities. For the hostellers, it will be a difficult task to accommodate them in hostels maintaining all the Covid-19 protocols.
“As the hostel accommodation is limited, many students used to stay in rented houses/private hostels and relatives’ places around colleges. All of them had returned to their native places after closure of colleges and universities on March 24. In view of the Covid-19 situation and infection risk, owners of private hostels and rented houses will not allow students to come and stay in their places,” said the higher education minister.
The letter stated that a number of colleges are being used as quarantine centres, covid care centre, covid care home and covid care hospital. If students come to the colleges to write examinations, they will be exposed to the Covid-19 risk. Conduct of examination in September 2020, as advised by UGC, will get further delayed due to worsening of pandemic situation in the country. The academic calendar will go off the rail completely jeopardising the future career of lakhs of students, read the letter.
Sahoo said if the alternative evaluation system can be accepted for intermediate year/semester students, it should also be accepted for final semester/year students. “If students think that they can get more marks than the alternative method of evaluation, they can sit for offline examinations in November/December once the Covid-19 situation improves. Through the alternative evaluation system, the final semester/year result can be published by August 31 which will not derail the academic calendar at all,” he added.
The UGC’s revised guidelines and MHRD’s office memorandum issued on July 6 have made final semester/year examinations mandatory for UG and PG students. These examinations must be conducted by November 30.
On June 11, the higher education department had decided to cancel both theory and practical tests of the end semester/final year of UG and PG courses. This decision had been implemented by all universities and autonomous colleges coming under the jurisdiction of this department.
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