— Written By Deborah Thambi
The APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, formerly known as the Kerala Technological University, will conduct offline supplementary examinations for BTech students of all semesters beginning September 9. While concerns were raised by a section of the students and the state human rights commission (KSHRC), the university claims that it will adopt Covid-19 safety protocols.
In a circular issued on August 24, the university said it is aware of the challenges faced by students due to the pandemic, but that a “time has come wherein we are left with no options other than to ‘live with Covid’.”
“It is to be noted that there are hundreds of students with few back papers, many of them are even placed, who are eagerly waiting for the conduct of these supplementary examinations and publication of results. Any further delay in the conduct of these examinations will affect their career prospects and higher education opportunities,” it said.
It added that students who face specific difficulties in attending the supplementary examinations can avail the next immediate chance. In another circular on September 3, the university said it will conduct odd semester supplementary examinations as a special one-time chance this year especially for those with backlogs.
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Dr S Ayoob, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the university, told indianexpress.com, “The exams were announced on August 13 with a detailed schedule. Enough time was given to the students to prepare. We have even created software to provide the option for students to change the examination centre to one near their home.”
As per the UGC, universities can opt to conduct exams either online, offline or in a blended manner.
“The supplementary examinations are being conducted for semesters 1 to 8. Right now, the university does not have the mechanism to conduct the exams on a large scale like this through the online model. Many universities have started online examinations and later switched back to offline examinations. There is a certain quality that has to be maintained while conducting examinations and most of the time, these standards cannot be met in online examinations,” Dr Ayoob added.
On September 4, the KSHRC had written to university authorities, relaying the concerns of a section of students about the practical difficulties in appearing for the examination at a time when Covid-19 cases are on the rise in Kerala and elsewhere in the country.
“Many of the students are in containment zones. Many are unable to avail public transportation due to scarcity of the same…of course options are given to them to select other colleges but the closest college is also located about 20 kms away from their residences,” P Mohandas, member of the commission, had written.
A student who petitioned the KSHRC against the offline exams said, “Many students including myself have health issues such as asthma. To wear a mask from the moment we step out to the whole duration of the exam and till we return home is a lot of pressure. The exam stress on top of it will affect our performance.”
“Even if I give the option for the nearest centre, I’ll have to travel a good distance to reach the centre. I have elderly people at home and we have to be so careful in going out,” the student added.
The university on its part has maintained that strict health protocols will be followed at all the 132 exam centres to ensure the safety of the students and the invigilators. All principals have been asked to constitute ‘war rooms’ with heads of departments, PTA secretary/president, NSS coordinators and representatives from non-teaching staff, police and the health department.
— The author is an intern currently with indianexpress.com
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