Punjab Higher Education Minister requests MHRD to re-examine revised guidelines

Chandigarh: The Punjab Higher Education Minister Mr. Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa has written a letter to the Union Minister of Human Resources Development, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal requesting him to re-examine the entire issue regarding the revised guidelines issued by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India and UGC. In which they have issued revised guidelines to Vice-Chancellors of all Universities and Colleges to compulsorily conduct examinations for terminal classes/semesters of Under- Graduate and Post-Graduate courses by 30.09.2020.

Mr. Bajwa in his letter has said that considering the larger public interest of successfully containing the Covid-19 pandemic and allow the State Government to implement its decision by not making the MHRD/UGC revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020 mandatory on the State Government. He said that the MHRD/UGC guidelines dated 06-07-2020, making conduct of final term examination mandatory, has unnerved all the stakeholders. He said that conducting on-line examination for such large number of students, majority of whom reside in remote rural areas without access to Computers/Laptops and Internet, is not possible in the State.

He also said that conducting physical examination will involve huge logistical and operational challenges considering the fact that social distancing and other Covid-19 protocols cannot be maintained in case of hostel accommodation. At many places, the college/universities buildings/hostels have been taken over by the district administration for Covid-19 management purposes such as for Temporary Medical Camp, Covid Care Hospital, Quarantine Centre, etc.  Since public transport is almost non-existent due to Covid-19 effect, mobility of students to their college will be severely affected.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Punjab is rising alarmingly and the worst is expected in the next couple of months. Under these circumstances, it is neither possible nor advisable to conduct final term examination for exit class students by adopting MHRD/UGC revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020.  Such decision will have adverse psychological impact on students.

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The Higher Education Minister said that with the current trend of rise in the COVID cases since April 2020 and the study done by the world leading Institution, we are not sure whether the situation will be conducive for the conduct of off-line examinations by September in a vast country like India. He further said that conducting the examinations for the terminal semester (s) / year by 30 September 2020 will not only delay the results of such examinations but also be detrimental to career and cause financial distress to many students who are dependent upon securing a job in order to sustain themselves and their families.  ‘It will also prevent students from applying for further higher studies or entrance examinations, nationally and internationally, thereby demoralising them and their families’ added Bajwa.

The Minister also mentioned in his letter that the Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Puducherry have also taken decision not to conduct terminal exams. Even IIT Mumbai, Kharagpur, Kanpur, Roorkee have also cancelled their final semester exams.

Mr. Bajwa also said that the UGC had earlier issued guidelines on 29.04.2020 wherein it had been clearly mentioned that the guidelines were advisory in nature and each University would chart out its own plan of action taking into consideration the issues pertaining to Covid-19 pandemic and also the guidelines/ directions issued by the appropriate Government authorities. The State Government, after extensive consultations considering the safety of students/faculties/staff of Universities and colleges, the problems Universities and colleges would face,  in conducting examinations had decided on 03.07.2020  to cancel all pending UG and PG final term examinations and to promote students on the basis of performance in previous years/semesters. This has been done to ensure academic credibility, career opportunities, future prospects and simultaneously to safeguard principles of health, safety, fair and equal opportunity for students.

Above all the students, their parents and other stakeholders have overwhelmingly appreciated this decision of the State Government terming it as the most appropriate decision in the current Covid-19 situation Also to ensure confidence, satisfaction, competence, performance and credibility, willing students have been given the opportunity to improve grade by appearing for exams, which would be conducted when situation becomes conducive to conduct exams.

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