The Delhi University Teachers’ Association, in its feedback to the University Grants Commission over resumption of academic activities post the COVID-19 pandemic, has suggested returning to the pattern of annual examinations to provide relief to thousands of enrolled students. Delhi University currently follows the semester module under which the examinations are conducted twice a year.
It further emphasised that the learning through online classes and e-resources may not be feasible given the limited or no access to computers and internet, particularly in rural areas.
The association, in the feedback, said, “As per the MHRD/DU circulars, teachers have engaged with students through e-resources, this process is far from being adequate due to the lack of preparedness and institutional help provided to students and teachers. Students have reported facing issues of connectivity and access to sufficient bandwidth to be able to attend the online sessions. Given our student demography, it is important to recognize that a large section of students come from outside Delhi and that an equally significant number comes from underprivileged backgrounds, and the environment at their homes is unlikely to be conducive for learning.”
It further added, “The University and colleges have so far not been able to collect data on how many students have accessibility to the e-resources and lectures shared by teachers. Given the diverse population of students to whom University of Delhi caters to and the student strength, the means and modes of assessment and examination adopted in the context of the lockdown should ensure that the solutions offered do not further marginalize the already marginalized sections of students or create a situation where large sections of students lose out due to the circumstances they face.”
The feedback of the teachers’ body comes days after the university reportedly told its computer centre to prepare an ecosystem to conduct the examinations online. However, the teachers maintained that it was not a feasible option. It said, “In Delhi University, most students had gone home for the mid-semester break (which included Holi) and did not carry with them books or reading material or even the portions which had been covered in the classes before the mid-semester break. An online examination system is not viable, especially for a large University like DU with its diverse student population, and must not be even considered.”
The lockdown has brought uncertainties to thousands of final year students who were looking forward to finishing their courses and applying for further postgraduate courses in the country and abroad. The association told the regulator, “In case universities are allowed to open only in a phased manner, priority should be given to final year students. In such an eventuality, examinations for other years of study can either be held along with the final years (if circumstances so permit) or may be carried forward to a later date... Final year students may be provided provisional certificates with details of the SGPA of past semesters and CGPA (on the basis of that) and listing all papers undertaken in the course work. This will benefit students applying to other institutions for higher studies even as they await completion of examinations and declaration of results.”
The unprecedented lockdown announced in the country has left universities in dire straits. Interestingly, the teachers’ body said, “Universities should prepare the academic calendar of the next year keeping in mind the time required to adjust the course requirements of the current batches of students. This may require shifting of semester exams or holding examinations in annual mode.The possibility of shifting to an annual mode of teaching, especially at the UG level, should be seriously
considered. It will enable the system to respond better to such crisis situations, in case of further prolongation. Suitable adjustment in the course work can be worked out for the students promoted to 2nd and 3rd year.”
Also read: COVID-19: In the Land of a Heartless Lockdown