Published: 05th May 2017
In an effort to prevent management from tampering with official records, expert committee by Kerala government suggests putting up academic records online
The move will allow students and parents to assess academic performances and spot discrepancies
Kerala government will soon take the digital road in its effort to infuse transparency in the awarding of internal marks to students at various self-financed colleges. An expert committee set up by the government had recommended last week that putting up the academic record of the students, including details of attendance and internal marks on the institutes' website would offset the chance of teachers or the management tampering with the records. In a first, the panel has also recommended the appointment of ombudsmen at all college and universities to deal with the complaints of the students.
This comes after repeated complaints of lack of transparency in internal marks, an unquestionable privilege of the teachers. Babu Sebastian, the Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University who headed the panel of University VCs, says these two measures could bring the much-needed respite to institutional torture. "Internal marks or continuous assessment was introduced to make the system better. But, it was used by many institutions as a stick to beat students into submission. We have also heard unsettling news like 'idimuris' (a room in some colleges where students are beaten for not falling in line) from some colleges. The recommendations of my panel will put a stop to such practices and empower students," he says.
These are the major recommendations of the panel;
1) All affiliated colleges shall have an academic auditing system.
2) All colleges shall establish a web-based application to upload the marks/grades of each student for all types of internal assessments including daily attendance.
3) The grievances which cannot be redressed at the teacher level, HOD level, and Principal level can be filed to the two-tier Ombudsman system as Ombudsman at college level and Ombudsman at University level.
4) The documents related to the internal assessment should be produced regularly before the Academic Auditors of the University. The Academic Auditors should submit a college inspection report to the University.
5) Universities may provide an option for Summer Courses for students to upgrade the internal marks or attendance
Justice is online
The panel has said all the records regarding the academics of the student, including the details of internal marks, attendance, assignments, and projects, of a student from the time she joins the institution, should be put up online. It would make it easier for the students and their parents to assess the academic performance and spot any discrepancies or mistakes. The report on attendances are to be updated daily and marks of all the exams should be put up online within five days after it is published.
The panel has said all the records regarding the academics of the student, including the details of internal marks, attendance, assignments, and projects, of a student from the time she joins the institution, should be put up online
Sebastian said all the universities will have the platform ready by the beginning of the next academic year in June. "It might take some more time for the colleges to fall in line. They need to build the platform and a mobile app on their own. It might take some time."
Gatekeepers of transparency
The appointment of an ombudsman is expected to make the road to justice for students shorter. Earlier, if a student had a dispute with the college regarding assessment, they needed to approach the courts.
The ombudsmen should either be a retired principal of aided/government colleges or a retired teacher of repute. They should visit the college once every week and hear the complaints. A settlement has to be arrived after holding discussions with the principal, teachers and the students. If a case is not resolved at the college level, a student can approach the ombudsman at the university. The panel recommends the ombudsman at the university to be retired judges from the High Court or district courts.
But, can't ombudsmen be influenced by the teachers and the institute? "The ombudsmen will have semi-judicial powers. He/she will be more powerful than the Principal of an institution.so, I do not see a reason why they would side with the institution."