With regard to IGNOU conducting offline exams during the Covid 19 pandemic, we talked to Mr Athar Hussain who owns a YouTube channel from 2017 named AH Helpline with more than 2L subscribers on which updates like admissions, exams, re-registration, etc. are shared with prospective and IGNOU students.
Hussain coneyed the impact of IGNOU conducting offline exams and why the varsity should not have gone with it instead with online exams which students have been demanding on various social media platforms with the hashtag #IGNOU_Students_Want_Online_Exams and #IGNOU_Students_Against_Offline_Exams.
He said that if IGNOU had gone with online exams then all the students could have been made to appear for the exams which is not the case now as only final year students are appearing and the intermediate year students would be appearing in December and which has led to the loss of six months for them due to postponement. Which as per Hussain will degrade the performance of students as there will be a minimal gap between December exams and June exams next year.
Those students who are appearing for the exams are facing several problems especially in states like West Bengal, Assam, etc. as the transportation facilities are not fully functional and the students are made to travel even 90 KM to reach their exam centres said Hussain.
He asserted that IGNOU students have never before protested so strongly for conducting online exams. And their protest was given space on various news platforms as well to assess the reason behind the university going with offline exams amidst pandemic.
It was expected, said Hussain that, the Covid 19 protocols would be followed during the exams but they were been violated as shown by various students on social media platforms. He also mentioned that the following protocols were limited to some exam centres only.
Hussain stated examples of various other universities such as the University of Delhi, Banaras Hindu University, Aligarh Muslim University, among others, which have gone ahead with Open Book Exams (OBE) then why not IGNOU he asked.
He said that it is the compulsion of students as they are in the final year they have to somehow appear for offline exams even after risk associated.
It is painful said Hussain that, a university of international presence ignoring students concerns for offline exams.
He suggested an alternative option for students as other activities such as admissions, assignment submission etc. are taking place online then why not exams?
The concerned authorities said Hussain has mentioned that many students belong to the rural background and lack the necessary facilities to appear for exams. Hussain pointed out if so is the case then why they have been asked to take admission, submit examination form, do re-registration, among others in an online format?
He said if the university decides to take online exams the students will arrange the necessary infrastructure. Hussain affirmed the majority of students carry smartphones and they can do this as well if other things are being done by them. The university may also give an option to students to appear in the exam format of their choice i.e. offline or online.
Hussian said the varsity has not come up with a concrete answer as to why they are conducting offline exams and not in online mode. Despite UGC giving the option to universities to conduct exams in offline, online, or blended mode.
University recently conducted a survey to assess how many students have the necessary infrastructure to appear in online exams said, Hussain. I am hopeful IGNOU is considering an alternative to offline exams, having no idea will it be implemented or not.
Finally, he said an alternative should be considered by the university to conduct the exams as if the same situation arises during December exams or the third wave this may repeat. Hussain said, students are not asking for promotion but desire to appear for exams in a safe environment.