UT News Service | SHILLONG, Aug 27: Seeking the postponement of the upcoming NEHU and MBOSE examinations, a conglomeration of NGOs from Garo Hills which include the GSU, FKJGP, ADE and AYWO has written to Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma on Thursday.
“Across the country, the issue of conducting exams during the pandemic is causing panic and we are concerned about the potential of the situation turning the entire state into a containment zone. Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Odisha are all apprehensive of the UGC’s push to conduct exams and want postponement,” said the NGOs in a memorandum submitted to the CM.
They questioned the contention of the Government of India that the academic credibility of the students will be compromised while pointing out that even premier educational institutions like IIT and NLU have said that conduct of exams at such a time is not worth the life of the students and that they would be evaluating their students based on their past performances.
“Complaints have been pouring in from worried parents, students, teachers regarding the conduct of the exam. Students are facing a good number of obstacles for this academic session, which the government needs to heed,” the NGOs opined.
Listing out the various problems faced by the student community, which were of prime concern to them, the NGO stated, “Reports suggest that only just 1/3 of students in India have proper access to internet, while for the majority of 2/3 students it is a deprivation because they might not be able to appear for online exams. Many students cannot afford different sim cards to toggle between different networks”.
They added that many students are not tech savvy which adds to the problems and without training on how things work, they could likely mess up the exams. For the students themselves it is akin to a catch 22 situation, as they would lose an opportunity if they did not appear for the exams and could risk their lives if they did.
Added to that was the issue of transportation and accommodation for the many students, due to protocols put in place in different parts of the state as many are not from the towns and would find a problem in finding accommodation.
“There are students from other states as well who would have to be allowed into the state and even from containment areas. Further, most colleges just don’t have the room to ensure protocols like 6 feet distancing being followed. Besides, the congregation of a huge number of students and maintenance of protocols will be a huge challenge and the virus will likely spread again,” they felt.
According to the NGOs, many from the teaching community are not in favour of holding exams at this time, while on the other hand health officers, doctors, nurses and others will simply be overwhelmed and there will be a breakdown of the system during the exams.
“Students in Meghalaya simply do not have access to required resources and facilities to face online exams. Garo Hills also does not have enough cyber cafes to satisfy the demand, should the online exam be held as is the case of most institutions,” they alleged.
The NGOs also asked the criteria from the HRD Ministry for special chances for students who cannot appear for the exams to be held.
“The virus is virulent as ever as can be seen from the growing number of containment zones and we believe that tackling the spread of the virus should be one of the prime objectives and not risk the students who are the main stakeholders and the teaching community,” they reiterated.