Visually impaired students of Panjab University and its affiliated colleges can heave a sigh of relief now that the university has simplified the process of authorising a scribe or writer, weeks ahead of their first exam on June 7. Now they only need the examination centre coordinator’s approval for their chosen writer 15 minutes before the exam begins.
Earlier, the students had to prepare a letter and submit it to their respective departments at the university with required documents, educational qualification of their writer and photo identity card. This letter had to be carried with them and approved separately by the Controller of Examinations (CoE) and center superintendent and coordinator hours before the exam.
In a circular issued on Thursday, the Assistant Registrar for Controller of Examinations has addressed principals/chairpersons/directors of the affiliated colleges/departments/institutions on the matter.
“The university has authorised all the chief coordinators to give permission for writer to all the blind candidates (private/USOL/regular) provisionally on spot,” read the circular.
It added that the attested proforma could later be submitted to the university for record-keeping or final approval. This will considerably ease the process for outstation students and those studying in affiliated colleges, said Assistant Professor Sanjeev Gautam, coordinator, EOC-PwD (Equal Opportunity Cell for People with Disabilities).
The cell is also in the process of creating a bank of writer for visually impaired students, in case a writer fails to turn up on the day of the examination. “This was a pending demand of the students and I’m glad the university has acknowledged their effort. I am now trying to create a bank of scribes before the exams begin. Last year, we had 30 writers with us and I’m contacting them again to see if they can work with us this year too,” said Gautam.
He added that the candidates were also free to choose their writer. Earlier, the university would arrange for writers, but sometimes it so happened that they were not qualified or efficient enough.
Visually impaired students who did not use the facility of a writer get an hour extra to finish their exam, but the time allotted to the student who was not using one should not be less than 20 minutes per hour of examination.
“We are relieved by the decision as we have fought for it for a long time. But there are numerous other issues that should be resolved at the earliest,” said Manish Chauhan, a visually impaired student of the department of political science.
He added that their demand for online examination for visually impaired students should be given top priority. “They still haven’t facilitated the infrastructure for online exam, so that we can write the paper on our own and don’t have to depend on a scribe,” Chauhan said.
Also, writers at the university did not get remuneration for their role. Colleges that are under the UT Administration give Rs 300 to writers per exam. Even in major entrance tests such as that of Jawaharlal Nehru University and other examinations such as UGC NET, writers are remunerated. “The university gives away certificates to writers, but last year some four to five writers did not even get a certificate because the previous EOC coordinator delayed signing the certificates. Now writers are reluctant to work with us,” said Chauhan.