Even as the state government and authorities at Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) are yet to come up with a confirmed plan on how final year degree exams would be conducted, a letter, jointly signed by a dozen Senate members and educationists, has recommended an offline-online exam pattern for professional and non-professional courses along with a staggered exam schedule.
The letter addressed to SPPU Vice-Chancellor Dr Nitin Karmalkar states that after the Supreme Court mandated that final year degree examination would have to be conducted as per directives from University Grants Commission (UGC), a state-level committee was set up to study how exams can be conducted.
According to reports in the media, it appears that an online exam mode is being contemplated, in which students can appear from their homes.
Keeping in mind, however, the international ranking of SPPU and other factors, Senate members have suggested some measures: first, exams of professional courses should be conducted online, and second, exams of non-professional or traditional courses should be conducted offline for many reasons, of which the main is that only about 40 per cent students would have access to laptops, computers, smartphones.
“Many students come from rural pockets and low-income families. Some of them are first-generation learners. Their parents have lost their jobs or small businesses have incurred heavy losses owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. It would be wrong to assume that students would have access to technology and gadgets to appear for these online exams or even the money to ensure high-speed internet or WiFi connections,” the letter stated.
Senate members also pointed out that students have returned to their villages. Of the 2.3 lakh degree students in the final year, many live in remote and tribal areas where power failure is common.
Considering all these points, Senate members have requested that the exams be conducted offline at centres close to hometowns and villages of students, and that the number of centres should be increased.
They also stated that the exams should be of 50 marks, with multiple choice questions and a time duration of an hour, while students should be called in three batches. All guidelines should be followed, including maintaining a distance of two benches between each student, along with mandatory use of masks and sanitisers by students, invigilators and other staff at the exam centres, the letter further stated.
The letter was signed by the Senate’s senior members and educationists, including Gajanan Ekbote, Shamkant Deshmukh, Sanjay Kharat, Santosh Dhore, Dadabhau Shinalkar, Bhagyashree Manthalkar, among others.
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