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Sunday, July 05, 2020

Maharashtra: Govt move to cancel final-year exams comes under attack

Among the issues they raised were the government’s ‘interference’ in a matter that is the jurisdiction of universities which are autonomous bodies.

Written by Abha Goradia | Mumbai | Published: June 2, 2020 2:15:03 am

A day after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced cancellation of all final-year exams of degree courses, educationists and students questioned the move.

Among the issues they raised were the government’s ‘interference’ in a matter that is the jurisdiction of universities which are autonomous bodies, the fate of students who were due to appear for ATKT (Allowed To Keep Term) exam, and whether these students will be treated like ‘step-children’ when they approach companies for jobs.

According to sources, during a recent meeting between vice-chancellors and Thackeray, they had backed the idea of conducting final-year exams. Some academic councils of state universities had also passed a resolution on conducting final-year exams. Moreover, the stakeholders also questioned the government’s haste in cancelling exams, which could have been delayed until September.

In a letter to Thackeray on Monday, former school education minister Ashish Shelar said that nearly 40 per cent students are due to appear for ATKT exams, which are conducted before final-year exams. He also raised the issue of entrance exams such as MHCET, a prerequisite for engineering and pharmacy courses. Among other things, Shelar pointed out that for many professional degree courses, the final year comprises specialisation in chosen subject. “Would it be appropriate to instead judge the students on performance in previous years,” he asked in the letter.

Academicians pointed to lack of clarity on whether the announcement also applies to postgraduate students, many of whom seek jobs or opt for foreign education after passing out. Calling the government’s decision academically unsound, Progressive Education Society chairman Gajanan Ekbote said that the move could cause pan-India bodies such as Pharmacy Council of India or Council of Architecture to not recognise the degrees of students without examinations, bringing further trouble for students of architecture, pharmacy or engineering.

The state-level committee, in its report, had suggested reducing the number of hours for exams, multiple-choice questions, open-book tests or providing assignments to students as alternatives. Despite the state move, CBSE and ICSE board schools are slated to hold exams from mid-June to July. Despite repeated attempts, Minister for Higher and Technical Education Uday Samant remained unavailable for comment.

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