Over 100 Physics teachers from Delhi University have written a letter to the Dean (Examinations) expressing their concerns on the controversial decision to conduct online examinations. The decision to hold online examinations through open book examination method has drawn scathing criticisms from teachers and students alike over issues of internet accessibility, preparedness and lack of infrastructure. Under the method, a student will be required to download the question paper, write answers on a plain paper sheet, click the images of the answers and upload it on a central server within three hours. However, a latest survey conducted by the Delhi University Teachers' Association among the students observed that more than 45,000 students were opposed to the idea of conducting online examinations.
The Physics teachers said that despite their best efforts, they could not reach all the students uniformly for online lessons. Lack of resources, connectivity issues and environment at home have adversely affected students' learning environment. Even when teachers were able to hold online classes, only roughly one-third to one-fourth students participated. The letter stated that teaching-learning has been so uneven and where institutions have failed to provide for all students equally, any examination would be unfair and discriminatory. “In pushing OBE, the University is abdicating its constitutional duty to provide equal academic and evaluation related opportunities to all students irrespective of their background,” it said.
Abhishek Kumar Singh, who teaches at DU and has received numerous calls from students about the procedure, said, “Without an iota of doubt an open book examination demands for question paper(s) set so that external help possibility is excluded. This central idea of open book examination is unjustified as the semester was stopped abruptly. The bias of question paper setter beyond doubt will exist and will be an injustice to students of those teachers who are not party to setting the question paper. This demand of open book examination where question papers are extremely tough in comparison to the normal examination is not coherent with the abruptly ended semester. The open book examination is a self- contradictory proposal."
Also read: Delhi University: Over 45,000 Students Reject Online Exams, Claims DUTA
He added, "We should not rate ourselves too high from realistic perspective. In the middle of the pandemic crisis, IIT Kanpur has already given onetime special case of leaving the students based on their past records. IIT Kanpur has, let's be honest, better equipped students for open book examination and also they have much better infrastructure. If they have given one-time exception we may think of alternative proposal. IIT Kanpur has set a great precedent."
In absence of uniform mechanism for examinations, various departments at the university have come up with the proposal to evaluate undergradute students based on their scores in previous five semesters. The Sociology Department advised that the students could be allotted marks by giving 75% weightage to the marks secured in last semesters and 25% percent weightage to internal assessment.
Siddhart Lahon, who teaches Physics at Kirori Mal College, said, “I fail to understand why the examinations for final semesters are so necessary. The university has already notified that the 1st year (2nd sem) and 2nd year (4th sem) students will be promoted and marks will be awarded on the basis of past performance and internal assessment. Why can't the university do the same for final semesters? Is it that the university or the authority considers that the final semester exams are something imported from the other worlds? We all know that the final semester examination is just one of the six semester exams. Why so much fuss about conducting the final semester examination? Ironically, the university thinks one semester's performance is a good base to grade the 2nd semester of the 1st year students but five semester's average performance for grading the final semester is of no use. What kind of nonsense is prevailing here?"
Talking to NewsClick, Abha Dev Habib, Former Executive Council Member, said that she is concerned with discrimination and cheating issues. She said, “In Miranda (House College), we were able to conduct weekly meetings to determine the way ahead but it did not happen in many colleges. In a condition where teaching has been so uneven, how can we expect that a common student would be able to answer questions uniformly designed for 25 colleges."