The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:
The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) rejects the unilateral proposal made by the University Grants Commission through a circular issued on July 6. This imposes a homogenous national pattern of online/open book examinations where physical mode of examinations may not be possible under the conditions of the pandemic and lockdown.
Internet connectivity in the country is still around 36% only. Access to online classes or examinations does not exist for a vast majority of our students, particularly the marginalised and those living in remote digitally unconnected parts in our country. This UGC direction is highly discriminatory and hence cannot be accepted.
Education is in the concurrent list of our Constitution. The UGC cannot issue such a uniform diktat without consultations with the state governments, state universities/colleges who practice diverse mechanisms/structures both for teaching and conduct of examinations. It is also important that representatives of teachers, particularly students, whose future is at stake, are also consulted.
Many universities have a large number of affiliated colleges spread over wide locations. Given the surging infections and lockdown restrictions, many students will not be able to access the internet and participate in online education/examinations.
A digital divide in our education system is unacceptable. However, given the fact that the final year graduate and post-graduate students have to be examined and awarded their degrees so that they can pursue their careers, it is imperative that their already assessed previous semesters’ performance should form the basis of assessment for awarding degrees.
The students are currently going through severe mental trauma on account of the uncertainties and insensitivity of the authorities. This prescription of online examinations is going to further agonise them. Already there have been instances of students unable to access online classes ending their lives tragically.
Under these circumstances, the PB of the CPI(M) demands that students be awarded their degrees on the basis of the already assessed earlier semester’s performance.