Published: 14th June 2020
Stand with your students: After HC's green light, DUTA appeals to Principals to stop DU's Open Book Exams
The DUTA noted that this decision would affect close to 4 lakh students in the terminal semesters of PG and UG courses and would affect households across the country
'Mock Open Book Exams is a mockery of the real situations in which our students and their families find themselves today,' the Delhi University Teachers' Union wrote in their letter to the Principals in protest against the administration decision to conduct the exams. After getting turned down by the Vice Chancellor and the High Court, the DUTA is now appealing to the Principals of DU Colleges to not conduct Open Book Exams (OBE).
"The decision to conduct OBE for terminal semester/year students taken without consultation in statutory bodies and despite widespread opposition is completely misplaced. The conduct of mock OBE will not address any of the problems outlined by teachers and students. Further it will put the system into additional stress without any real benefit," the DUTA wrote. They also raised a point about other institutions that were granting degrees based on past records of the students, "The decision to grant degrees on the basis of past record has been accepted by many institutions in India and abroad, including IITs and is perhaps the best possible decision given the conditions," they said.
The DUTA noted that this decision would affect close to 4 lakh students in the terminal semesters of PG and UG courses and would affect households across the country, “The DUTA Survey cum referendum in which over 51,500 students participated, has shown that close to 50 percent students did not receive material or could not access it and only 28 percent could not attend online lectures with some regularity. Close to 34 percent students could not join any online class. 90 percent have noted against the idea of any examination at this juncture and 85 percent have voted against the OBE. The DUTA also echoed a statement that is being made by educationists and activists across the country, that the exam is discriminatory, “It is discriminatory against those who do not have access to notes, books, e-resources. As our survey showed, students had gone home for Holi and were caught unawares by the lockdown and found themselves without access to notes or reading material. Even when online classes were held sporadically, only one-third to one-fourth students could participate. The learning environment in which many of our students found themselves was also a major factor that has affected teaching-learning.”
The DUTA also said that since the help that the teachers received from the institutions was pretty negligible, as a result the teaching-learning is far from complete and has been ‘uneven’ in its reach. They also pointed out the possibilities of malpractice, “When malpractice cannot be checked, the system is nothing but a farce. Already students have started receiving messages from coaching centres that are selling reading material. It is ironic that students are to be penalised for their honesty,” the DUTA said.
Another factor that the DUTA pointed out in their argument against OBE is the fact that the University had decided to consider past performances of two other batches but were not providing the same exemptions to students in the terminal semester, “That something applicable for some students is not being extended to terminal students who actually have earned grades for many more semesters is indicative of the extremely insensitive attitude of the administration.”
Appealing to the Principals to take action, the DUTA said that it was a fully known fact that students have struggled to complete internal assessment and lab evaluation and there have been instances where students could not be contacted by email or telephonically for various reasons. “The special needs of many of our students, especially the differently-abled one ans their entitlement have been completely ignored. The University refused to recognise issues of mobility and access to resources for such students, including scribes to write such examinations. As a head of an institution involved mainly in teaching-learning of UG students, we appeal to you to support the students and teachers in their demand for a more rational, academic and credible grading system for terminal semester students,” the DUTA said.
The DUTA appealed to the Principals to not succumb to the pressure to participate in the OBE, “Because the real intent seems to be only to declare it a success. We appeal to you to stand with your students and teachers in these difficult times.”