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Wont Be Able To Take Exams Without Scribes: Differently Abled DU Stude

New Delhi: With the Delhi High Court on Friday allowing Delhi University to conduct online open-book examinations, students said their anxiety levels have gone up with some differently-abled students worried that they won’t be able to take exams in the absence of scribes and assistive devices. Students said the varsity should come out with clear guidelines on the conduct of the exams.
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A final year student of Gargi College, who did not wish to be identified, said it’s now the onus of the university to resolve the issues that have arisen during the mock tests and also give clarity on the rules. “The court has said that students will be given an extra hour to upload answer sheets. We were already being [provided] two hours and an extra hour for uploading answers. Will we be given three hours or four hours now?” she asked.

Rajesh Jha, Executive Council member of the university said the students had to approach the judiciary when the university administration “became autocratic and despotic”. The teachers and students have been opposing the online open book exams (OBE) and the judgement has vindicated their grievances to a large extent, he said.

“Now there is an urgent need to take a relook at online OBE in the light of disastrous mock tests. Academic Council and Executive Council must be convened immediately,” he said. Some specially-abled students said the move means they might not be able to take exams in the absence of scribes and assistive devices.

Deepak Gupta, a visually impaired student from Rohtas in Bihar, said he won’t be able to appear for the exams since he does not have clarity on whether the nearest Computer Service Centre is ready to facilitate them. With no access to the internet, Gupta said the High Court’s decision has led to an increase in anxiety levels among students like him. “Many of my friends won’t be able to take exams and we do not have clarity on the facility of scribes and even access to study material. In this scenario, how will we appear for the exams?” Gupta added.

Another visually impaired student, Mohit Kumar Pandey, said the university has not made available a facility for scribes and there is no access to study material.

Pandey, a student of St Stephen’s College, said he could not take the mock tests since he didn’t have a scribe and expressed inability to appear for the open book exams. He also raised concerns about the coronavirus situation and said it does not seem likely that the varsity will be able to hold offline exams even in September.

Alok Yadav, a differently-abled final year student of Ramjas College, said the university is being biased and is only looking at those students who have access to internet and technology. “I am in a small village in Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh. For attending a phone call, I have to go to the terrace since there is no network. How will I take the exam in such a situation?” he asked. “When I left Delhi during the time of lockdown in a hurry, my assistive devices and study material was left behind. I do not have a scribe or assistive devices for studying. We also have to prepare for entrance exams and our admission for Masters. It seems unlikely that our issues will be resolved in the next two days.”

The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) said any form of the online or blended exam is “discriminatory, unjust and lacks sanctity”. “Students without means and deprived of online teaching and study materials will be penalized. Students who are honest and do not resort to immoral practices will be penalized too. An examination, after all, ranks students,” it said in a statement.

An option for the offline exam at a later date does not alter the “discriminatory, unjust and immoral character” of the OBE, it added. “It is beyond our comprehension that why a more credible and uniform system of evaluation could not be adopted at a time when students and their families are battling health and livelihood issues. We wish to tell our students that teachers will stand with them, the statement said.

DUTA also said an offline examination appears to be infeasible in the near future. “It threatens the safety of students, who are spread across the country, and discriminates against those who could not access online academic interactions. “The zealous manner in which the Government and the UGC are insisting on an examination knowing well that the offline mode is infeasible any time soon is a clear indication that as a precursor to the NEP 2020, they want to showcase an online examination,” it added.

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