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Students in West Bengal demand online exams, evaluation

Students in West Bengal demand online exams, evaluation

Kolkata:

There was not enough classroom teaching for offline exams, they say, but administrators and faculty demur

There was not enough classroom teaching for offline exams, they say, but administrators and faculty demur

Students across West Bengal are demanding that exams be held online this year, their argument being that not enough classroom teaching was held this semester to equip them for offline exams. While some universities in the State have given in to their demand, many others — particularly those based in Kolkata — are firm about conducting exams in the offline mode even in the face of protests by students.

Rabindra Bharati University, where police had to be called in recently during violent protests by students, and Jadavpur University, have made it clear that they will hold exams in the offline mode. The University of Calcutta, which has close to 160 colleges affiliated to it, is yet to make a formal announcement, even though it has made public its preference for the offline mode. Students of the university have already begun protests on College Street, where the varsity’s administrative office is located.

Among the institutions that have given in to the students’ demand for online exams are Vidyasagar University in Midnapore, and Kalyani University. Kazi Nazrul University in Asansol, on the other hand, has decided to postpone the exams that were scheduled to be held next month.  

“For conducting the upcoming undergraduate and postgraduate (even semester) examinations respectively, Chairpersons of the Undergraduate Boards of Studies and Members of the PG Faculty Councils have recommended in favour of Offline Examinations. A meeting will be conducted with the Principals of the affiliated colleges on May 27 for their views on the mode of examinations. All these recommendations and views will be placed before the Syndicate on June 3 for the final consideration and decision,” University of Calcutta Vice-Chancellor Sonali Chakravarti Banerjee said.

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There is clearly not much sympathy, particularly among teachers and administrators, for the protesting students. Teachers are almost unequivocal in their opinion that students are seeking the easy way out, having become used to lenient online marking during the pandemic, and that online exams will only be detrimental for the students in the long run. Students, on the other hand, are contending that since classes for most of the year were held online, exams should also be held online. Teachers are arguing back that if protests could be held offline, why not exams?

“They want an easy way out; they are only looking for a short-term gain. They don’t realise that it is their prospects that will be harmed if they are evaluated online; they won’t find it easy to get jobs,” an official of the university told The Hindu.

“Last year the exams were held online because of the unprecedented circumstances. But with the Disaster Management Act no longer in force, how does one justify online exams?” the official asked.

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