AAPSU urges MHRD, UGC to cancel end-term exams

ITANAGAR, Jul 19: The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) has submitted a representation to the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) for cancellation of terminal examinations for end-semester/year students in Arunachal.
Condemning the MHRD and the UGC for their “adamant” decision to conduct exams during such “undeclared health emergency” despite opposition from several quarters, the union asked: “Who will be responsible if something were to happen to the students while appearing for such exams?”
“Student lives matter. Exams are not more important than human lives,” it said, and suggested devising an alternative mode of evaluation which does not risk the lives of the students, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Also demanding that Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) cancel the examination notification issued on 17 July, the union questioned the RGU authorities whether they held prior consultations with the state health task force and the state government before issuing the notification for examinations for terminal semester/year students.
Similarly, the union questioned the Arunachal Law Academy for coming out with a notice for conducting online exams from 21 to 23 July.
“How can the academy conduct exams at such short notice? We urge all the educational institutions in the state not to play with the lives and career of the students,” it said.
The union also opined that online or offline examination “is not possible to be conducted in the state due to the prevailing conditions, including the great digital divide and the serious risks posed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Further, the recent spate of landslides, floods and other natural calamities in Arunachal Pradesh has cut off surface and digital communication in many districts of the state. Many parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam are currently under lockdown. It will be almost impossible for the students to make it to the university,” it said.
The AAPSU also highlighted that most of the final-semester students of RGU and its affiliated colleges in Arunachal are not ready to appear for exams due to the fear of Covid-19, especially in the Itanagar capital region and its surrounding areas, in which the university is located.
“The month-long lockdown, including the current Itanagar capital complex lockdown, which also includes Doimukh area has severely affected the mental and emotional wellbeing of the students,” the union said, and informed that other state universities and institutions in Arunachal are also “unsure about the exams and many of the students studying in these universities are against the move of the MHRD and the UGC to forcibly push for exams during such serious health crisis.”
Expressing scepticism over the safety and security measures that would be put in place for the students and the teachers if they are compelled to appear for the exams, the union said that the standard operating procedure or other guidelines issued for conducting exams are “practically impossible to be strictly adhered to in a state like ours where the authorities are still struggling to contain the pandemic.”
“While many of the offices, schools, factories, public places, etc, are closed, we don’t find any merit in conducting exams for the final semester students in the universities. This health crisis has greatly exposed the poor health infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh,” it said.
It also said that many students are at their native places, effectively following lockdown and other measures, and that making the exams mandatory would compel them to come out of their houses and travel, thereby increasing the chances of exposure.
“Any large-scale outbreak of Covid-19 cases resulting from the final semester students appearing for exams across the state shall be disastrous for us and greatly undo the current efforts put in by the frontline workers in the state,” it said.
A separate representation regarding cancellation of terminal exams in Arunachal was also submitted to Chief Minister Pema Khandu.
“We strongly feel that the state government should make strong persuasion with the PMO, MHRD and UGC for cancellation of terminal semester exams in the state as the current condition due to rising Covid-19 cases in not at all feasible for such exams,” it said.
On 6 July, the UGC revised its guidelines and instructed universities to conduct their final semester/year exams before 30 September this year.