In view of the “extraordinary” situation of a nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19, the Delhi University (DU) is debating holding online examinations.
A meeting of Deans of various departments was Monday called by the administration, in which it was allegedly discussed that “oral submissions” of answers could be taken from students.
DU Executive Council member Rajesh Jha, who claimed he was privy to the details of the meeting, called the proposal a “complete mockery of higher education.”
“There was a discussion that students would be told to send an audio clip of 20 minutes, in which four questions would be answered. This is a complete mockery of higher education,” Jha said.
The group Academics for Action & Development (AAD), to which he belongs, said the oral submission would be through a third-party platform.
DU officials, however, denied any discussion of a third-party platform. “We are only exploring how online examinations can be conducted in DU, since this hasn’t been done before. Even if the lockdown is removed, social distancing measures will still be in force, so we won’t be able to hold physical exams,” a DU official said.
“In that discussion, one of the suggestions was also to have oral submissions. If it happens, it will be through a cloud server on the DU website itself. We are still in the discussion mode and there will be further meetings. We are also waiting for the UGC and MHRD to take a decision,” he added.
The AAD, however, “condemned the arbitrary and authoritarian proposal of the university administration for online examinations”. They said the proposal of oral submission showed the administration’s “scant understanding of essence of evaluation in higher education and its utter disregard for students’ interest”.
“In the name of exigency of COVID pandemic, reforms are being thrust by UGC-MHRD to pave way for the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2019, aiming at privatisation, contractualisation and online education,” it claimed.
The AAD alleged the “the Deans participating in the deliberation unanimously turned down the proposal”. However, DU officials denied such claims.
“The online process of paper setting, submission of answers and evaluation has very high chances of tampering and pilferage. To subverse a top-down agenda, we cannot allow the administration to compromise with the sanctity and trustworthiness of our examination system, which has been built over a century,” AAD said.
“Even the students took the admission in this university with a certain scheme and mode of examination, which cannot be altered midway. The university is under contractual obligation to adhere to that scheme. In the background of digital divide and 3/4th of our students coming from socially and economically weaker sections, the online proposition is against the basic principles of equity and social justice,” they added.
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