Attention Please: COVID-19 and Exams

When the entire nation is struggling to survive/revive from the COVID-19 pandemic attack, it is essential for all of us to plan for our future and to educate our next generation. The country is in series of Lockdown and Shutdown since mid-March 2020. Hence all the educational institutes are also completely closed now. And all the Students are confined to their homes. Many have been struggling with on-line classes, without knowing the final outcome. While on-line classes are good as a temporary measure, classroom education is essential. Low networking speed, inadequate number of smart-devices (phones, laptops, desktops, etc.), insecure software and power outages are some of the major hindrances which we all are facing as we quite simultaneously arrange for the on-line classes, work-from-home and home-based services.

Now we have reached a stage where we have to take some bold decisions for our Migrant Workers, Young Generation, Industries, Farmers, Small Scale Industries, Hotels and Tourism Industries, etc.

However, the biggest responsibility for us now is carving an overall uniform policy for our Young Generation. Their current academic year is yet to be over! Without any respite from COVID-19, starting of new academic year is also getting delayed. Today, almost all the Students, Parents/Guardians, Teachers and Academicians do not have a clear picture about the present and future of education in India. While different States are coming up with different plans, it looks like the Central Govt (MHRD) is in a mess. One should sincerely think about the mindset of our young Students, when there is either no news about classes or exams, or when there are multiple contradicting news regarding the exams!!

Is this what we all want in India and our plan to become a superpower? Why cannot we plan the exams and academic years in a considerate and thoughtful manner? Our plan should consider the difficulties being faced by the Students from rural and suburban areas as well!

Here are some observations/ suggestions based on the current situation, both for the passing out and non-passing out Students.

1. For non-passing out Students, it is not clear whether normalisation will be done for all the streams. Their schedule is also not clear. Why cannot we have an uniform policy across the country (all the Boards & Universities) ?

2. For the passing out Students in non-professional categories (without any research project), there is no clarity here too. For them, normalisation or/and exams can be considered, depending on the overall situation. But there should be an uniform policy across the country (all the Boards & Universities).

3. For passing out Students in professional categories (with research project), “extra time” should be given to Students to complete their projects (survey, experiments, slides preparations, documentations, etc.). For them, normalisation or/and exams can be considered, depending on the overall situation. Unfinished practical classes and exams are also important for these courses. Authorities concerned should plan out an alternative way, without compromising the essence of the professional courses!!! Since lot of internal exams /quizzes/ assignments are there for professional courses, normalisation process can differ on the courses and even across Boards/Universities. But there should be an uniform policy across the country (all the Boards & Universities).

For passing out Students, “end-date” of the current academic year is significant for their further career plans- job, higher studies, competitive exams, entrance exams, etc. In my opinion, with the prevailing situations, the “end-date” should be extended at least until September-2020. This will ensure smooth completion of their research projects & gradations.

4. Both Central & State Govts. should consult Academicians, Teachers, Students & Parents without any bias, and come up with an overall uniform plan across the country (all the Boards & Universities).

5. While the Central Govt. notifications are largely directed towards Higher Education, there must be a plan for vocational courses too including ITI, Diploma, Polytechnic, Skill Development, etc.

Recently as per the notification of MHRD, they’re taking inputs for the “next” academic year, while the “current” one is in an utter mess!!!

It is highly concerning for the Students passing out this year. Students-Teachers-Parents are obviously very worried. It is causing psychological stress too, especially since COVID-19 is peaking now. Today in utter desperation, Students are trying to reach out to authorities concerned through various social media posts- Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. But still there is no assurance for a clear-cut plan from our otherwise able Govts. !!

Request the Authorities concerned to take up this matter seriously and immediately. Right to Education is a fundamental right. So also Judiciary should intervene, if necessary.

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