Published: 13th April 2022
Why did students of Maharajas College Ernakulam, Kerala, write exams under mobile flashlights?
Since it is an autonomous college, it was well within the limits of the authorities to cancel the exam and make the announcement about a retest
At the government-run Maharajas College Ernakulam, students of UG and PG had to attempt their exams even during a power outage and they were aided by their own mobile's flashlights. This has triggered a controversy.
It was because of the heavy rain that several examination halls plunged into complete darkness when a power cut ensued. When students grew more and more agitated, the invigilators had to permit them to complete the exam with the help of the flashlights from their own phones, breaking the rule that says that there will be no mobile phones permitted inside examination halls.
For two long hours, students held the flashlight in one hand while writing the exam with the other hand.
Since it is an autonomous college, it was well within the limits of the authorities to cancel the exam and make the announcement about a retest. The power generator was purchased at the cost of Rs 77 lakh and even that came into question by the students.
College Principal V Anil shared that an explanation has been sought from the examination superintendent and the person has submitted the same. "The explanation provided by the superintendent will be analysed at the examination standing committee meeting on Wednesday. Measures like cancellation of the examination and disciplinary action against the invigilators will be decided at the standing committee meeting. The final decision will be made at the governing council meeting," he said.
However, a lecturer said, "The result will be invigilators being made the scapegoats." As per a lecturer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the outage ensued because the RUSA (Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan) fund to the tune of Rs 54 lakh was used to set up a high tension line for the college. "It was hyped that the HT (high tension) line will forever solve the power outage problems of the college. But the reverse happened and that too during the examination. Instead of setting up standby measures like generators, the authorities acted lackadaisically," alleged another lecturer.
"Can you imagine a situation when the invigilators have to call the KSEB (Kerala State Electricity Board) themselves to get the power outage situation rectified?" asked the lecturer.
"When the teachers contacted the examination superintendent, he told them to allow mobile phones," said the lecturer.
An assistant professor said, "Ours is an autonomous college that sets its examination timetable and question papers. The authorities could have cancelled the examination instead of allowing mobile phones inside the hall. We have become a laughing stock in the academic community."
Examination-in-charge PP Ramesh, however, said the mobile phone flashlights were used only for a short period. "Allegations that students had written the entire examination using the mobile phone flashlights are not correct. The power outage happened at around 10 am. Since this is an HT connection, KSEB engineers are not the ones who are in charge of taking care of the problems with the transformer. We had to call in the PWD (Public Works Department) engineers. During that short period, the students were allowed to use mobile phones to enter their details on the front page of the answer sheets," he said.
But in a short time, the power was restored and the students wrote the examination, Ramesh said.
Additionally, on Tuesday, April 12, the college governing body council decided to cancel all the examinations held on Monday.