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Final year assessment of students must not be compromised in the name of pandemic for narrow political gains

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Rakesh Kumar Pandey
Associate Professor in Physics at Kirori Mal College since 1990. Activist associated with NDTF functioning in Delhi University. Ex-President of NDTF.

After the court directed Delhi University to conduct final year undergraduate examinations from August 10 and finish it up in the same month, the university is now left with the task to complete this exercise keeping the interest of career of students in mind. This particular degree weighs very heavy in the education-life of the students and any compromise in the credibility of the same is bound to affect their professional progress adversely. On the other hand, if an impression is allowed to get created in the open, that the degree obtained this year is not going to be of the worth the grades that the students would score, it would leave an irreversible impact in the minds of the employers and will adversely affect the job prospects of especially the hardworking meritorious students.

This year, the students have passed through a real tough time of their entire education years. First, the sponsored anti-CAA related violent protests that were then followed by the scary anti-Hindu riots in Delhi, must have impacted their studies adversely till end of February. And then it was followed by the world wide fierce spread of a Chinese virus COVID-19 that has gripped the entire world even now and like that was never heard or imagined before.

Students, and especially the hardworking and meritorious ones, must have studied this year in extreme trying circumstances braving all the problems and challenges coming in their way one after the other. These students had to quickly adapt to unfamiliar methods of online teaching; explore new ways to connect to their teachers; clear their doubts through WhatsApp groups; search through Google looking for specific information; use of social media for different updates; connect to peers for news and what not. Learning these skills itself must have made them equipped to face the challenges of life in a much better way than their seniors. These students have learnt so many other skills and real lessons of life along with their subjects that it would be unfair to them if they get rated in a manner that might suggest a doubt on the worth of their grades.

Degrees without any kind of assessment might look attractive for those few students who hardly take their studies seriously but for serious students it is bound to work as dampener for their spirits since they would find their unusual efforts that they have put in this semester, going unnoticed in the end.

Delhi University must find a way to conduct the examinations that would make the assessment of all kinds of acquired skills of the students and judge the amount of study and hard work that they have put in this year, in the fairest possible manner.

It is disappointing to notice that there are some political forces that is wanting to exploit this hard and trying time of students to suit their narrow political agenda. The students’ union of Delhi University, DUSU, however has behaved in the most sensible way in this crisis situation and were seen to be trying to give priority only to the well-being and interest of students. They have till now refused to get carried by the otherwise attractive but having a long-term negative impact of opting for an easy way to get degrees without a credible form of assessment. It is good that such a crucial and important decision is not being allowed to get influenced by politics.

While there lies a danger that the pandemic may stay longer than expected and the requirement of observing physical distancing will have to be continued for some time, there is no doubt that the education sector will have to learn and adopt online ways of teaching and evaluation in recent future. However, it would be a real test of our combined capacity of finding and inventing an online/offline method of conducting examinations that will help in honestly assessing our students, keeping the sanctity of examinations intact and the results of the evaluation fair and still maintain the requirement of physical distancing.

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Rakesh Kumar Pandey
Associate Professor in Physics at Kirori Mal College since 1990. Activist associated with NDTF functioning in Delhi University. Ex-President of NDTF.

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