Like it or not, students have to appear for semester exams 

Students stand in queue for the Delhi University's (DU) second phase of the open book exams PHOTO:Getty

Even though opinions for and against them are divided, the Delhi University has decided to go ahead with its open book examination 

Despite opposition, Delhi University has started conducting open book exams from 7 June. Around 35,000 students reportedly appeared for the exam on the first day. Earlier, a survey by Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), found that 85% students were not ready for an online open-book examination (OBC). 

Considering the resistance to conduct exams, the University has decided to take only final semester exams. It has been a good experience for some, “Since we have taken the open book exams in last semesters, it was a smooth process, nothing much to do.” says a third year student of, Aman.

But not all students are happy. Many students cited family tragedies, and the Covid situations that left them unprepared for the exam and were demanding that the exams be cancelled.

Jaskirat, a third year student from Odisha, said, “I am in my hometown for more than a year. Most of my books are in Delhi, but still I am reading from the material available online. It has been tough so far. But I personally wanted exams. But many of my friends didn’t because of family tragedies. And I support them.”

Now, DU is conducting exams for the new semester, but it hasn’t announced the results of last semester for many courses yet. “DU has started conducting exams, while we are waiting for results for last semester.” said Aditya Dhar, a second year student of BA program. He said the university is in a  lax mode, they wouldn’t listen to students, had they not resisted.

 “Only after so much protest, when we ran a social media campaign, did they cancel exams for first and second year students. We are struggling to take classes, arranging books. In this scenario, appearing for an exam is tough.”

Officials said that they are conducting exams in accordance with UGC guidelines. Last year UGC asked to give an extra chase to those who are unable to take exams due their stay in the containment zone or access to the internet.


The tussle

A debate over conducting exams has given way for a tussle between those who want exams and those who don’t. Earlier over 300 students from DU’s law department wrote to the Bar Council of India to direct DU for Assignment based evaluation. Now a representation of 100 students wrote to BCI to continue with the open book exam.

As per the representation, it has been stated that conducting the Open Book Examination will help the students to divert. The representation reads. “There are plenty of students amongst us, even those who have actually lost their loved ones recently, want the exams to be conducted, because to us, studying or appearing for an exam does not affect our mental health adversely. However, on the contrary our academic insecurity and the unworthiness of the degree does, because of the delay in exams and the declaration of results.”

While students who didn’t want the open book exam cited the similar reasons.


Emotional drain

Spending time locked in home, with so much negativity around, is painful for many students. Many are complaining  of being burned out. Shrestha, a second year student of Economics said, “My mental health has deteriorated, I don’t feel like doing anything. My assignments are due. Fortunately, I don’t have to appear for the exam.”

“We haven’t got the chance to socialise, we don’t have close friends from college because we did not get enough time to build friendships. Now everything is online.”

Another student, Darshan (name changed) said, “ my uncle died of Covid. I also got Covid. There was panic in my house, and I am taking the exam. I wanted to write the exam but not this time. I was hoping that the university would postpone exams. But it didn’t happen.”


Struggle for study

In the survey, DUTA also found that only 50% of students were able to receive reading material sent by their teachers. While 38% couldn’t access the e-learning materials, 12% said that they didn’t get study material.

Online mode of the exam left many students helpless. Many students struggled to take classes, a survey by the student body last year found that nearly 41.2% of students struggled to take classes and internet connectivity was the main reason.

Now it seems that the catch 22 situation has marred everything. How much value is in this decision of conducting an exam, is therefore a crucial question to ask.


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