Published: 01st June 2020
IITG prof tricks students into taking online test to prove 90% could take it: Shocked students recount hurdles
The students were told after the quiz that it was a self-assessment test. The students are angry as they had to overcome many obstacles to attempt the test
Ever since online learning and assessment was announced in the country, various students, student groups, faculty and activists have come out strongly in protest against its implementation. These stakeholders have said that online exams are outright discriminatory and would eliminate vast sections of the society that did not have access to internet, devices or even electricity. Others also said that the current scenario is taking a mental and financial toll on everyone and this is not the time to demand that students continue their education digitally.
In an atmosphere that is already volatile, many institutions are continuing with their plans and some have agreed to put them on hold. In such a scenario, a professor from IIT Guwahati has invited criticism from his students for organising an online quiz to assess them on. They weren't as angry with the test as they were about his statement about the test after it was over.
According to some students from IIT-G, the professor organised the quiz a few days ago and after the students had submitted their answers, he sent them an email stating the following: 'The encouraging submission numbers show that if a real test is conducted online, then more than 90 percent are likely to submit. By this, we are not implying that we are ready to hold one but we are awaiting clear instructions from the authorities.' In his email, the professor has also said that the test was 'simply for the students to assess their knowledge'. "It is interesting to see how the average score started shooting up after the first four submissions. We will carefully save the names of those who scored single digits after the first hour. They deserve our respect, " he had also said.
According to an alumnus from the campus, the alumni had received complaints from over 50 students in the course regarding the incident.
In response to the professor's email, one student wrote another email refusing to be included in the 90 percent of the students who 'were able to access the internet and submit the test'. Despite submitting the test, the student said he had to make many sacrifices and take on a lot of stress due to the test and refused to let the administration count him as someone who had access to the internet. The student, incidentally, was also one of the people to be affected by the recent Styrene gas leak in Visakhapatnam. “On May 7, after the Styrene gas leak, my family and I had to relocate immediately with basic essentials in between the lockdown. Amidst this chaos, my father has been unwell for the past two weeks and it requires me to take him to the hospital every day. We could not admit him to the hospital because of hygiene concerns. Yes, I managed to take some time and do my best to prepare for this exam even though I am stuck in unavoidable circumstances that require my absolute presence and attention. I was trying my best to stay sane throughout this,” he wrote.
Narrating how he had to make compromises and sacrifices to attend this exam, the student wrote in the email that he had to ask somebody else to take his father for treatment. “There was a power cut because of the heavy rain that morning which forced me to beg a neighbour (social distancing) to allow me into their house since only they have a power inverter. I gave the quiz in these uncomfortable circumstances feeling really anxious. It was nothing less than mental torture for me,” he said.
He said that learning that the assessment was just a self assessment test left him deeply disturbed, “This was uncalled for. I did expect this from a premier institute like IIT-G. There might be various sensitive cases like this which must be considered. And incorporating me into the 90 percentage tag without knowing what I was going through is unjustified. I feel pathetic about the whole scenario,” the student said in his email.
The student also made another powerful statement at the end of his email stating that he had failed in his responsibilities as a son, "Though I got a decent mark in the ‘self-assessment test’ I totally failed in carrying out my responsibilities as a son choosing this test over my father’s treatment. For the fellow students who tried their best to attend this quiz and gave their best in such adverse conditions, I feel sorry for you that we were let down,” he wrote.
The students have been reaching out to the administration regarding the obstacles they would face is digital assessment was made mandatory, “Over the last few weeks, we have been seeing our student representatives trying time and again to make the administration and faculty members understand our situations but we’ve only got cold replies and very little support from them, “ a student wrote on Facebook.
“Despite the fact that the feedback revealed most students were unable to get steady internet, despite the pleas from those students suffering with the pandemic's stringent policies have been implemented that are aimed to torture the underprivileged. Their offhand attitude only proves perhaps they no longer have our best interests at heart,” he added. The alumni said in their statement that they had sent the emails they had received regarding the incident to the concerned authorities. “We were expecting such e-mails from the students about their suffering but never thought it would hurt us so much to read it,” an alumnus wrote.