Education sector, students, exams hit by Coronavirus big time
It cannot be stressed enough that the pandemic has severely hit all sectors, lifestyles and has instilled a sense of unprecedented uncertainty and fear for the future across the world. But one of the biggest hits has been for the GenZ, the student community across the world, worried about their academic future.
Schools, colleges, universities have resorted to virtual education ever since COVID-19 took over the globe. Students, teachers and parents alike settled themselves into this new form of remote learning, with some initial glitches. But even as the world, along with India starts to ‘unlock,’ there is not much known as to when the education system can go back to the traditional form of classroom education. The HRD Minister Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, along with key stakeholders have been in talks to decide on resuming academic activities, but the situation seems to remain blurry at least till July.
Obtained valuable suggestions from State governments regarding issues related to school education. Our priority has always been the safety and security of students and teachers. @PMOIndia @HMOIndia @PIB_India @MIB_India @DDNewslive @HRDMinistry— Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (@DrRPNishank) June 8, 2020
The scenario has been especially difficult for the outgoing batches in colleges and universities. The Coronavirus struck at a time when students were to appear for their final exams and eventually step into the real world, look for jobs and contribute to the economic system. With the ongoing conditions, these students are unsure about their future that they had worked so hard for over the last 3-4 years.
Students have made several posts with hashtags like #StudentLivesMatter to pressurise the educational institutions to scrap the exams and promote the students. Earlier, educational institutes including Delhi University and various Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have decided to promote the intermediate semester students without exams. Maharashtra is promoting all students. Students of Karnataka, Rajasthan, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have been demanding the same for themselves.
To understand the situation better, let’s take a couple of varied cases in context.
CBSE Calling Off
The Central Board of Secondary Education had postponed the remaining Class 10 and Class 12 examinations due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and has been issuing guidelines related to it ever since. These exams will now be conducted between July 1 and July 15. In the latest set of guidelines issued by CBSE, students will now be allowed to take exams in their respective schools, instead of the previously allotted examination centres.
Students who were either residing in hostels or were sponsored by the state governments or had to shift districts during the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to apply for a change in examination centres. The kind of frequent changes in guidelines and conducting of exams at a time when experts say that the cases are likely to spike even more, has created more confusion and fear among students and their parents alike.
Maharashtra Mulls Over Exams
Students have been demanding clarity on the issue of conduct of exams for the final year. Mumbai University has been juggling between cancellation of exams and non-cancellation of exams since a while now. On May 31, CM Uddhav Thackeray had announced that due to the extension of lockdown in the state, final year exams would not be conducted and that students would instead be evaluated on the basis of marks obtained in previous semesters.
However, on June 2, Governor Koshyari wrote to the CM, saying that all such decisions shall be taken by the Chancellor of Universities in accordance with provisions of the Maharashtra Public Universities Act. In his letter to the CM, Governor Koshyari also expressed ‘surprise’ at what he called an unprecedented decision that could jeopardise the future of students. This conflict of opinion between two constitutional functionaries in the state has quite understandably led to widespread confusion among students in the state.
Delhi in Doldrums
At Delhi University, the major hurdle is that of accessibility. As per a notification, the varsity said that holding pen-paper semester exams is not feasible due to the current Coronavirus situation. Although, students say that most of them have not been able to attend online classes due to lack of resources and the internet. In such a situation, students who would not be able to take exams via online methods will jeopardise their future.
Telangana Students vs Managements
Students in all state universities have been at loggerheads with the management over the payment of exam fees and conduct of examinations. So far Osmania University, that was supposed to schedule exams from June 20, after massive outrage by the students has deferred the decision until further notice. Students of Jawaharlal Nehru Technical University (JNTU), especially those stranded in other states are worried about how they will reach for the offline exams starting June 20. Similar is the case with PG medical students who will sit for exams conducted by the Kaloji Narayan Rao University of Health Sciences from June 20. The students who were until May 11 serving patients, want the exams to be postponed by 4-6 weeks.
Adding to their worries is the fact that at least 40 medical students have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks, 3 of whom are supposed to take the exam. A number of students and professors have been sent into quarantine, due to their contact with positive patients. However, Vice-Chancellor of KNRUHS, Dr B Karunakar Reddy is adamant on conducting exams on the decided date.
Meanwhile, the state government has announced that the students who were to sit for Class 10 SSC exams will now be promoted and exams have been cancelled unconditionally after the High Court’s recent order citing the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
TN emulates Telangana Model, Cancels Public Exams for Students
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Tuesday announced that the public examination for SSLC and the pending subjects for Plus One course for the academic year 2019-20 have been cancelled and all students will be promoted without examinations. However, Plus Two examinations for the pending subjects are put off for which the dates for these examination will be announced later.
Another side of this story is the plight of a section of students, who were aspiring for a foreign education on campus for the coming Fall and Spring sessions. The dreams of several potential students have been shattered by the Coronavirus.
As per a report by the QS-ERA India Private Limited, which comes out with coveted global ranking for educational institutions, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the decision of 48.46 per cent of Indian students who aspired to study abroad.
Students of classes 10th and 11th to be promoted on the basis of quarterly and half-yearly exam results as well as their attendance; their exams stand cancelled. Decision regarding class 12th exams will be taken in coming days: Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K Palaniswami (file pic) pic.twitter.com/6Y3xgvNp7p— ANI (@ANI) June 9, 2020
Esteemed universities have however been offering remote classes for international students and most universities have even extended deadlines for 2020 Fall applications by a great margin and a whole lot of waiver conditions. Top business schools like Oxford, Imperial College of London, London Business School, Kellogg and Carnegie Mellon have waived off the GMAT/GRE score requirement, which earlier used to be an essential component for being eligible for a course.
However, with many foreign universities considering online classes as an option, Indian students planning to study abroad are not sure if it’s worth their time and money. For those who let go of the opportunity for this term, will be stuck with no jobs too due to the economic slowdown in the country. Students are also worried about the lack of jobs even after availing their postgraduate degrees, due to the economic recession that the pandemic is certain to kick off.
Contributed by Harleen Minocha.