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Thursday, July 02, 2020

Delhi University locks open book exams, puts tentative datesheet online

The move has faced criticism from several quarters, especially in light of a survey conducted by the DU Teachers’ Association of 50,000 students that showed 85 per cent of students were not in a position to appear for OBE.

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi | Updated: May 31, 2020 9:52:55 am
Delhi University, Delhi University exams, Delhi University open-book exams, Education news, Indian Express DU will engage the Common Service Centres under the IT Ministry for those without access to internet or hardware

Two weeks after the Delhi University administration said it would go for online open-book examination (OBE) for final year/semester students if the situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic does not normalise soon, it has put up a tentative date sheet of the exams, scheduled to begin on July 1, on the university website.

The move has faced criticism from several quarters, especially in light of a survey conducted by the DU Teachers’ Association of 50,000 students that showed 85% of students were not in a position to appear for OBE.

READ | Why are students across India opposing online exams?  | 85% Delhi University students not in a position to appear for open book exam | Decision to conduct ‘open-book’ online exam draws criticism 

In a letter to all college principals on Saturday, Dean Examinations Vinay Gupta wrote, “It is felt that the examinations cannot be conducted in the conventional mode as per the existing government norms of maintaining social distancing, and safety and health of the students.”

“The matter was intensively deliberated in the various bodies i.e. Task Force constituted by the University in view of Covid-19 and the Working Group on Examinations, based on which it was decided that as one-time measure, OBE shall be adopted as an alternative mode of examination for the final semester/term/year students for the academic session 2019-2020 for grading/result,” he added.

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He said that to “protect interests” of students in J&K and other areas with lack of internet and hardware facilities, DU would engage the Common Service Centres (CSC), under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

“The students shall be allowed to use the ICT (information and communications technology) infrastructure resources available with the CSC academy for downloading and taking printout of the question papers, scanning and uploading the answer sheets on the portal. The students can avail all these facilities free of cost,” said Gupta.

He said colleges could allow a limited number of students, who do not have access to internet or hardware, to use the ICT infrastructure for exams.

READ | Term-end exams of final year students will definitely take place: HRD Minister 

For students who are not able to appear for the OBE remotely, the university plans to give another “chance to appear in the physical mode of examinations”, which would be conducted after the publication of the OBE results.

Former Academic Council (AC) member Pankaj Garg said the new decision is “nothing but befooling students who are deprived of ICT infrastructure”.

“Most of the common service centres mentioned are in bad shape with no proper ICT infrastructure. This decision would adversely affect economically poor students. Even if they are given a chance to appear in the physical mode of examination, it would only be after declaration of OBE results. This delay would affect their future plans,” Garg said.

Some members from both Academic and Executive councils have demanded that the tentative datesheet be taken back and the matter discussed in statutory bodies.

“You are going ahead with OBE despite strong protest from teachers and students and without any approval of the statutory bodies, i.e. AC and EC. Recent surveys on this issue by students and teachers have shown very high disapproval rating,” wrote AC members Seema Das, Richa Raj, Sudhanshu Kumar and Pradeep Kumar, and EC members JL Gupta and Rajesh Jha.

A senior university official said the decision is “final”, and it would not go to the councils for further ratification.

Vinay Gupta said, “We don’t see the situation normalising soon. Even if there was a plateau, we could have considered physical exams — the university’s preference — but now it doesn’t seem possible.” He said the students would face no problems as the university has given very detailed guidelines.

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