The Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected the education sector across the world and the situation is grave in India too. The circumstances are alarming and the number of positive cases are rising everyday in most parts of the country. This period of lock-down has not been physically or mentally easy on students or working professionals.
In Hyderabad, students of JNTUH-CEH and UCE OU, have faced several challenges in the last couple of months. Many non-local students have had to completely abandon their life here and go back to their home towns to be with family. Some of them also know family members or friends who are either diagnosed or are going through the trauma of a family member being infected. These are tough times for everyone and especially students who have academics on their plate.
As per government guidelines, GCSE and A-Level exams were cancelled but apparently few universities are still continuing with exams through an online or offline portal.
Students of Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Hyderabad and Osmania University College of engineering are greatly disadvantaged at this time due to a variety of reasons.
- Due to lack of study resources and no internet connectivity at home (especially in rural areas), students could not attend online classes effectively and thus it would be difficult for them to prepare for examinations on such short notice.
- Over 80 percent of the hostel/dormitory residents did not carry their books while leaving the hostels, assuming that the lockdown would end on 31st of March, as declared by the government of India at the time.
- There is also an issue of being quarantined for 10-14 days after the inter-state movement. As of now, students who stay out of the state do not have any means of transportation from their homes to the university as Indian Railways has cancelled non-emergency train reservations till the 30th of June. Foreign students too face a setback, as the Indian government has announced all international flights to remain banned till May 31, 2020. There is no confirmation on when the international flight operations would resume.
- As the number of cases are increasing day by day at an alarming rate, it would be arduous to maintain social distancing and proper sanitation standards in the hostel premises or while giving the examinations.
- Also, most of the day scholar students have their grandparents at home. Due to regular travelling to college, if they happen to be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID – 19, they are unknowingly putting their respective families at great risk and this can be fatal for old family members.
- The pattern of the exam has changed as per the guidelines issued by the UGC. The duration is cut short by 1 hour, but only 1 question was cut short in the exam. For 25 marks, a student writes for 2 hours in mid exams. So, a 70 marks paper cannot be attempted in 2 hours. As the online classes have not been the most helpful in this scenario, the reduction in the time of the exam from 3 hours to 2 hours would actually be detrimental for everyone.
- Parents of several students are daily wage earners and current pandemic has further worsened their already terrible conditions.
The above survey is based on the conversation of each and every student with their respective class representatives in their respective class groups. There was a petition regarding the same, created by one of the students, which was further signed and agreed by 27,000 (approx.) students. There was also a movement on Twitter about the cancellation of exams, which was started by Telangana students on 3rd June which ended up trending in the top 3 across India.
Conducting exams in person can put a large amount of students at risk and act against the national interest of flattening the curve, especially when colleges can become vectors of rapid spread very quickly.
In Telangana, Hyderabad is an epicentre of Coronavirus. There is a very high amount of risk involved not only to the students but also to the faculty members and the examination committee.
Hence, students have been strongly protesting for the cancellation of exams for this semester/academic year and they hope for the results of this semester or academic year to be based on the internal exams and performance in the previous semester, as suggested by the UGC.
The students seemed to not be against exams but only against writing them for the current semester/academic year in light of COVID-19, keeping in mind the risk involved to them and their families.