Despite facing backlash for making attendance compulsory for students, Jawaharlal Nehru University has now decided to expand the move and make marking attendance compulsory for teachers as well. To implement this, the Academic Council (AC) in its meeting on Friday decided to introduce the biometric attendance system for teachers. Apart from this, students will be required to sign an undertaking when they register for their course, saying that they will abide by attendance rules. The AC also gave its approval to hold entrance examinations completely online from the next academic session.
The JNU Students’ Union and Kavita Singh, Dean of the School of Arts & Aesthetics, were barred from attending the AC meeting on Friday for alleged violation of discipline in previous meetings. While the JNUSU protested outside the venue, the JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) protested Singh’s exclusion by wearing black clothes.
“While JNU had already implemented rules of attendance for students and administrative staff, the 146th AC meeting through its resolution has made attendance mandatory for teaching community as well. JNU faculty need to give attendance at least once in a day. Moreover, the AC also approved a rule that during the registration process at the beginning of every semester, all the incoming and continuing students are required to give an undertaking that they will abide by attendance rules,” said Rector I Chintamani Mahapatra.
He confirmed to The Indian Express that attendance would be marked in biometric form. However, JNUTA president Sonajharia Minz said the matter was not part of the agenda item, and was announced as passed by the Vice-Chancellor at the last moment.
“There was no agenda in this regard. It wasn’t even part of the tabled items. It was only in the end during discussion of ‘any other matter’ that the V-C casually informed that they were working on biometric system for student attendance. A faculty member jokingly said how about the faculty? The V-C was only too happy to pick it up and pass his verdict. Such an important decision cannot be passed as ‘any other matter’ without due deliberations,” she said, adding that there was “no scope for dissent” at the time.
On online entrance, Mahapatra said, “An important decision has been taken by the AC to make JNU entrance examinations completely computer-based. Many members pointed out during an hour-long discussion on this issue that the admission process in JNU will now be fairer, efficient, secure and bias-free.”
However, Minz said the move was “exclusionary” and would “not be friendly, especially to the deprived sections”.
The AC has also made it “mandatory for all teachers to show corrected answer scripts of all exams to students before finalising grades” to make evaluation “more fair and transparent”.