Bhubaneswar: In view of the rising COVID-19 cases, the Odisha government on Thursday again requested the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) not to make undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) final year examinations mandatory.
In a letter, Higher Education Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo informed Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ that it is neither possible nor advisable to conduct the examinations in the state due to the pandemic.
Sahoo wrote to the Minister again as the state government had not received any response from the MHRD regarding the previous letter written on July 9.
“Due to non-receipt of any response or clarification from the MHRD, the state government and state public universities are in a dilemma regarding conduct of UG and PG term examinations,” the Minister said.
“Students and parents have become very anxious and restless due to such uncertainty and are contacting us in large numbers over telephone to know whether they should start preparing for the examinations or not,” said Sahoo.
Sahoo has given eight reasons for not holding the final term examinations in the state.
“The number of UG and PG final 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,” Sahoo reasoned.
He said that conducting physical examinations will expose the students, college and university staff and their family members to the risk of COVID-19.
Besides, it is not possible for the students to come to their institutions due to lack of public transport facilities.
For the hostellers, it will be a difficult task to accommodate them in hostels maintaining all the COVID-19 protocols, he added.
“As the hostel accommodation is limited, many students used to stay in rented houses/private hostels and relatives’ places around colleges. All of them had returned to their native places after closure of colleges and universities on March 24. In view of the COVID-19 situation and infection risk, owners of private hostels and rented houses will not allow students to come and stay in their places,” said the letter.
A number of colleges are presently being used by District Administrations as Quarantine Centres, COVID Care Homes, COVID Care Centres, COVID Care Hospitals, etc. Students coming to these colleges for writing the exams will be exposed to the COVID-19 risk, the Minister said.
The conduct of examinations in September 2020, as advised by the UGC, will get further delayed due to the worsening of the pandemic situation in the country.
Sahoo requested the HRD Minister to reconsider the matter and allow the state public universities to adopt the alternative evaluation guidelines issued by the state government instead of conducting examinations as per the MHRD/UGC revised guidelines.