Higher and Technical education minister Uday Samant on Monday cleared that the state government will not be promoting college students without exams, contrary to some rumours floating on this matter. The minister, in an interview spoke about the role of universities in helping tackle the outbreak of Covid-19 and how NSS students can contribute through volunteering with the administration.
Excerpts from the interview
Will the department promote all college students without exams?
No. The department has decided to not promote students without conducting exams. We are prepared to conduct exams as soon as the lockdown is lifted even if there is a slight delay. While first year and second year exams are conducted by colleges, the third year exams are conducted by the universities. We cannot pass them based on average marks.
Will there be changes in the academic schedule?
So far, we have decided to go as per schedule, despite the delay. We are exploring the idea of conducting university exams in the districts where the lockdown is lifted after April 14. Another idea is to formulate a common plan for all universities. However, we are also in the process of formulating a plan B, and have formed a committee to look into an alternate strategy. The committee will present the report within 8 days. The coming academic year may be affected or delayed, but we will make necessary adjustments.
With the scare among many students and parents about coronavirus, will deploying NSS (National Service Scheme) students for volunteering purposes be an issue?
We are taking the consent of the parents and students beforehand. Moreover, the students will be deployed only if the respective district collector needs help from the students. NSS students of Solapur are helping the administration with the Corona testing unit, those in Aurangabad are helping the police, Nanded students are raising awareness among labourers, whereas students in Gadchiroli and Chandrapur have helped in counselling of the labourers.
Apart from setting up of testing labs, how can universities contribute towards tacking the outbreak?
The first format for testing labs is ready with Aurangabad, Solapur and Mumbai University. The funds will be used from the University budget. Apart from that, I have appealed to all universities to scale up research activities and work towards producing work that can prove beneficial in combating coronavirus. Apart from this, there are over 35,000 principals and teachers who have been appealed to contribute their one day’s salary to the CM relief fund. Through this, we hope to donate a substantial amount.
The teaching of syllabus in many colleges is yet incomplete. What about that?
While 75 percent teaching in most colleges has been completed, the rest is being completed through the online mode. The syllabus for students living in districts such as Gadchiroli and Chandrapur, where they do not get network and face internet connectivity issues, the syllabus has already been completed. Thus, their syllabus won’t remain incomplete.
By when will the final decision regarding opening of universities be taken?
We are dependent on the announcements that will be made on April 14 by the central government. Once we know the clear picture, we will be able to take a decision on this matter. Even if the lockdown is lifted after April 14, the institutions and the department will require a minimum of two weeks to regularize things and take further decisions. Presently, many hostels have been given for quarantine purposes.
Is there a message you would like to give the students?
There is no reason for students to worry. Their academic year will not be wasted and the government will take full responsibility of this. We will be coming with a proper format on conducting exams and ensuring smooth academic year. Above all, I appeal to the students to not believe in any floating rumours and wait for official directions.
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