The country went into a nationwide lockdown on March 24th because of covid-19 but universities in most of the country were locked down way before the national lockdown was announced. In Delhi, the lockdown was imposed on 2nd march in universities like DU, AU, JNU and others. Classes were stopped mid semester with a majority of the classes still left to be conducted.
After some haphazard planning and discussions where students were not consulted it was decided that the remaining classes will be conducted online. This came as a shock to many students who live in areas where internet connectivity is not very reliable and even restricted like in Kashmir. Not to mention the fact that not all students are privileged enough to have smartphones, laptops etc in their homes. Also, online classes conducted through zoom, hangouts, skype and other apps have come under lot of criticism because of technical issues like poor connectivity, low resolution, timed sessions and so on. Many students have also complained that teachers are in a rush to check off their syllabus by providing links to books, sources and other materials without a proper discussion and explanation on the topics.
In situations like these, the HRD ministry and University administrations are hell bent on conducting exams without considering these problems. Though Universities like DU has cancelled exams for all undergraduates except the final year students, exams for MA students are not ruled out yet. They are conducting Open Book Exams for final year students. Other universities are still working on how to conduct exams for students. Both the options of online and offline exams are being considered without consulting students and teachers. This will definitely affect the students who don’t have access to online facilities. Even the students who have access to these facilities will have to pray for steady internet connection and hope that their devices don’t malfunction. Offline it is another nightmare, as the risk of getting corona is very high with cases rapidly rising in Delhi and other major cities. Ensuring social distancing and safety practices will be tough for the universities and the students will have to write their exams in constant fear of getting infected.
The general disregard to these problems show that our education system lacks apathy and is solely focused on conducting exams and handing out degrees like a factory production line. Imparting education and learning is definitely not on the agenda of our universities.