Published: 17th December 2019
Why teachers, students are calling JNU's first WhatsApp exam a 'mockery of education'
Question papers will reach students and they can send in their answer sheets by Saturday via WhatsApp, email or even hand it over personally
Ramon Magsaysay award-winning journalist Ravish Kumar had coined the term WhatsApp University. The Jawaharlal Nehru University has officially made it a reality. Amidst the JNU students' almost two-month-long protests and boycott of exams, the School of International Studies (SIS) sent out a letter to all centre heads that the question papers will be sent to the students and they can WhatsApp the answers back.
SIS Dean Aswini K Mohapatra said the decision was taken “in view of the extraordinary situation in the campus". He explained in the letter, "Due to persistent obstruction of end semester examination by the agitating students, the Dean of Schools and Chairpersons of Special Centres held a wide-ranging discussion with the JNU administration including the Vice-Chancellor. There was a consensus in the meeting held on December 16 at 9.30 am that in the academic interest of JNU students an alternate mode of test for MPhil or PhD and MA Programme of Studies be conducted".
Question papers will be sent to the students by the Course Teachers for MPhil and MA programmes. "Centre chairpersons may prepare the Examination Schedule as per the requirement of the Centre. Students are requested to submit the answer scripts to the respective course teachers for evaluation," read the notification. The last date for submission of examination scripts is December 21 but the notice does not mention the day of the examination. "Students may submit the answer scripts either through Email or images of handwritten scripts through WhatsApp or personally to course teachers. Those students who fail to return examination scripts within the deadline may be given an additional day.
Now you might feel that this is the golden opportunity every kid dreams of. But the JNU students oppose it. They said that this is nothing but the mockery of the education system. "This is a way to demolish the integrity and quality of education in JNU. We are fighting for that precisely," said Saket Moon, Vice-President, JNU students' union. A few days back, he added, some students had boycotted and finally cancelled an exam because the teacher encouraged them to cheat. "That is JNU for you," smiled Saket — precisely why most of India cannot relate to them.
JNU Teachers' Association (JNUTA) Secretary Surajit Mazumder echoed the students' concern and added that this is intolerable and JNUTA as a body does not support this. "This idea of conducting exams via WhatsApp is ridiculous, to say the least. How are they going to evaluate the papers properly? A degree from JNU means something — the students learn and we examine them to give them a degree to assure that they know what they had come here to study. Having an exam for the sake of an exam is of no use. He (Aswini) says that he cares for the students' future and that's why he is doing this. He should come out and ask the administration to resolve the issues with the students then," said Surajit.