Odisha urges Centre not to make UG, PG exams mandatory

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Higher Education Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo today wrote to Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank urging the latter not to make the conduct of UG and PG examinations in the state mandatory.

The Odisha Government had earlier written to the Central Government over the same matter. Sahoo again wrote the letter mentioning that there was no response from the Ministry of Human Resource Development towards the previous letter.

Sahoo opined that it is neither possible nor advisable to conduct the examinations in the state due to the COVID-19 situation. “The number of UG and PG final semester/year students in Odisha is about 2 lakhs. Most of them belong to the low and middle-income group and do not have a desktop or laptop or decent smartphone at home. Most of them also stay in rural areas not having a reliable internet connection. Therefore, conducting online examination for such a large number of students is simply not possible,” wrote Sahoo.

Conducting physical examination will expose the students, the college staff and their family members to the risk of Covid-19. As public transportation is now virtually non-existent, it is not possible on the part of the students to come to their college. For hostellers, it will be a herculean task to accommodate themselves in hostels maintaining all the Covid-19 protocols, he said in the letter.

As the hostel accommodation is limited, many students used to stay in private rented hostels/houses around colleges. As colleges were closed down since 24th March 2020, all of them have gone back to their native places. The house owners will now not allow the students to come and stay in their houses/hostels considering the Covid-19 risk, Sahoo said.

A number of colleges are presently being used by District Administrations for Quarantine Centre, COVID Care Home, COVID Care Centre, COVID Care Hospital, etc. Students coming to these colleges for writing examination will be exposed to the Covid-19 risk, he said.

Conduct of examination in September 2020, as advised by UGC will get further delayed as the COVID-19 situation is worsening in India. In that case, the academic calendar will go off the rail completely jeopardizing the future career of lakhs of students, the minister said.

If the alternative evaluation system can be accepted for intermediate year/semester students, it should also be accepted for final semester/year students. Students not happy with the alternative evaluation system (the number will be very less) will anyway get a chance to appear in the physical examination to be conducted in November/December once the Covid-19 situation improves. Through the alternative evaluation system, the final semester/year result can be published by 31st August, 2020 which will not derail the academic calendar at all, he added.

Sahoo requested the HRD minister to reconsider the matter and allow the State Public Universities of Odisha to adopt the alternative evaluation guidelines issued by the State Government instead of conducting examinations as per MHRD/UGC revised guidelines.

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