Odisha Higher Education Minister urged Centre not to make UG, PG exams mandatory

Bhubaneswar: Higher Education Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo on Thursday wrote to Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank urging the latter not to make UG and PG examinations in the Sstate mandatory.

The State Government had also earlier written to the Centre over the issue. Sahoo again wrote the letter mentioning that there was no response from the Ministry of Human Resource Development to the previous letter.

Sahoo opined that it is neither possible nor advisable to conduct the examinations due to the COVID-19 situation. “The number of UG and PG final semester/year students in Odisha is about 2 lakhs. Most of them belong to the low and middle-income group and do not have a desktop or laptop or decent smartphone at home. Most of them also stay in rural areas not having a reliable internet connection. Therefore, conducting online examination for such a large number of students is simply not possible,” he wrote.

Conducting physical examination would expose the students, the college staffs and their family members to the risk of Covid-19. As public transportation is now virtually nonexistent, it is not possible on the part of the students to come to their colleges. For hostellers, it would be a herculean task to accommodate themselves in hostels maintaining all the Covid-19 protocols, Sahoo said in the letter.

As the hostel accommodation is limited, many students used to stay in private rented hostels/houses. As colleges are closed down since March 24, all of them have gone back to their native places. The house owners would now not allow them to stay in their houses/hostels considering the Covid-19 risk, he said.

A number of colleges are presently being used by the district administrations for quarantine centres, Covid Care Homes, Covid Care Centres, etc. Students coming to these colleges for examinations would be exposed to the Covid-19 risk, he said.

Conduct of examination in September 2020, as advised by the UGC would get further delayed as the Covid situation is worsening in India. In that case, the academic calendar would go off the rail completely jeopardising the future career of students, he said.

If the alternative evaluation system can be accepted for intermediate year/semester students, it should also be accepted for final semester/year students. Students not happy with the alternative evaluation system (the number will be very less) would anyway get a chance to appear in the physical examination to be conducted in November/December once the Covid-19 situation improves. Through the alternative evaluation system, the final semester/year result can be published by August 31 which would not derail the academic calendar at all, he said.

Sahoo requested the HRD Minister to reconsider the matter and allow the State universities to adopt the alternative evaluation guidelines issued by the State Government instead of conducting examinations as per the revised MHRD/UGC guidelines.