The decision of premier educational institutions of Assam to conduct full-fledged examinations in offline mode amidst the third wave of COVID has hugely disgruntled the student community. In a bid to express their resentment against this move, students of Assam Science and Technology University, Cotton University and Guwahati University retweeted using hashtags #StopOfflineExams #StudentLivesMatter on 21st January from 5 PM to 7 PM. The students have been vehemently raising this issue on all social media platforms and pleading with concerned authorities to discard the pen and paper mode of examination. A delegation of the All Assam Engineering Students Union (AAESU) also submitted a memorandum to State Education Minister, Dr Ranoj Pegu regarding the same.
Students’ Point of View
From the past few days, Assam’s COVID positivity rate is clocking more than 10% and the number of active cases stands at over 40,000 (as of January 21). Scores of educational institutions in the state have had a COVID outbreak on their campuses, and some of them have been shut down by respective district administrations. In these appalling circumstances, there is shimmering apprehension and anxiety among the students, which has led to fierce opposition against the decision to conduct offline exams. Apart from the fear of contracting the virus while appearing for exams and spreading it to loved ones, there is one more issue that is fretting the students. In case a student gets infected with COVID during exam season and gets sick rendering him/her incapable to sit for exams, the student will be marked as absentee and will have to appear for the exam next year. To add to their woes, the entire academic session was completed in online mode and therefore the students have been bereft of proper teacher-to-student interaction and missed practical demonstrations of their subjects. Considering these factors, the decision of university administrations has angered the student community a great deal, with the students reaching out to local news portals and TV channels to highlight their woes and urging the concerned authority to revoke their choice of examination.
Parents’ Echo Students’ Concerns
The decision to convene an offline gathering by conducting exams despite a staggering positive rate has also not gone well with the parents, and some of them have conveyed their displeasure to the respective college administrations. The local students live with their parents and loved ones, and by sending their wards for offline exams the parents are also on the verge of contracting COVID, thus risking their lives and health. Moreover, the non-local students are not entitled to the facility of home quarantine which has triggered panic among parents.
Response of Universities
Taking cognizance of the students’ distress and concerns of their parents, Cotton University and Guwahati University have postponed their examinations indefinitely. The administration of these universities are yet to clarify the mode of the examination and whether they would cede to the students’ demand. Assam Science and Technology University has postponed many examinations at later dates and has confirmed that they would take a call regarding the revocation of offline examinations on 24th January(Monday).