‘Do not make exams compulsory’: Odisha Edu minister to MHRD

‘Do not make exams compulsory’: Odisha Edu minister to MHRD
Team Careers360 | Jul 23, 2020 - 4:25 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The higher education minister of Odisha, Arun Kumar Sahoo once again requested the ministry of human resource development to cancel the final-year exams in the state universities on Thursday.

Sahoo in a letter addressed to Ramesh Pokriyal ‘Nishank’ said that a majority of the students in the state do not have the facilities like internet, laptops or smartphones to appear for an online exam.

“The number of [undergraduate and postgraduate] students in Odisha is about 2 lakh. Most of them belong to the middle-income group and do not have desktop or laptop or decent smartphones at home,” wrote Sahoo. “Most of them also stay in rural areas not having a reliable internet connection,” he added.

Sahoo further explained that conducting “physical examination” might increase the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus. To accommodate the surge in patients, several colleges in the state have been turned into quarantine centres, Sahoo said in the letter.

On July 6, the University Grants Commission issued revised guidelines for the conduct of semester exams in universities. The commission recommended conducting exams in offline/online or blended mode by September end.

Semester exams and COVID-19

With no public transportation plying due to the increase of coronavirus cases, the students will not be able to travel to write the exam in offline mode, Sahoo said.

The minister further said that accommodating students while maintaining COVID-19 protocols will be a “Herculean task”.

Many students who were earlier staying in paying guest accommodations and private hostels will also face problems in lodging due to the coronavirus scare.

Earlier on July 7, the state minister had written to Pokhriyal advising against the conduct of final year exams for undergraduate and postgraduate students. However, there was no response from the MHRD.

Alternative evaluation

As an alternative to conducting exams amid pandemic, the minister has urged the Pokhriyal to consider an “alternative evaluation system” for the intermediate and final year students.

“Students [who are] not happy with the alternative evaluation system will anyway get a chance to appear in the physical exam to be conducted in November/December once COVID situation improves,” Sahoo wrote.

Based on the alternative evaluation, the semester results will be published by August 31, to avoid the “derailment of an academic calendar” the minister further added.

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