Post Mortem

the decision to conduct exam during covid-19 pandemic: the right decision?

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/24/2020 2:18:15 PM IST

 We can call 2020 as the worst year of the century till date. The outbreak of the pandemic, COVID-19 has put a stop to all the regular human activities. As a measure to fight against it, there have been many restrictions which have also affected human lives immensely. Many of us are suffering a lot because of it physically, financially, emotionally and most importantly mentally. We can no longer live our lives the normal way. Offices, institutions, public transport, cinema halls, parks, etc. have been shut down since April inorder to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The number of cases affected by COVID-19 is increasing on a daily basis. The total number of cases of COVID-19 worldwide is over 1.15 million and in India itself, has crossed 11 lakhs. At this point of time, the decision taken by the University Grant Commission(UGC) and Nagaland University(NU) to conduct  exams for final year students! Is this appropriate?  A lot of students have been suffering mentally because of the pandemic and another burden has been added upon the lives of the final year students. Despite the ongoing requests of the students across the country to cancel the exams, UGC has decided to conduct the exams. 

On 16th July, the students of Nagaland University received the news about the routine for the final year exams which will begin from the last week of August and go on till the second week of September. The news of conducting the exam caused a lot of panic and chaos among the final year students. Students were filled with many concerns regarding the guidelines for the exam are provided by Nagaland University which is to be followed while appearing the said examination. My question is why was there nothing mentioned about who will be responsible for our health if we are infected with Covid-19 while appearing for our exams? Who will take the responsibility? Why was there nothing mentioned about that? Is the exam more important than our lives? We should know who will be responsible for our lives. Let me take an example from the students of Nagaland who are studying here in Dimapur.Not everyone is a permanent resident of Dimapur and most of the students are right now in their respective hometowns. If we were to appear for our exam, they have to return to Dimapur. Some stay in rent while some stay in hostels. Hostels have been asked to close. Some hostels have been set up as a quarantine centre including even some colleges, so, how are the students going to return to Dimapur? And if they return where will they stay? Hostels won’t be opening anytime soon. Even our college boys’ hostel has been set up as a quarantine centre. So my concern and question is where are the boys’ hostellers going to stay? On the streets? Where?

 If we are to appear for the exams, is our safety guaranteed? Are the colleges across the country ready for it? How are the students, who don’t have their own means of transportation, commute while appearing the exams? Using public transport to travel in order to appear the exams but maintaining social distance while doing so is just absurd! Also concerning the students from other states, will they be appearing their exams or will they be spending their time in quarantine centers’? Has the UGC and NU thought about all these matters before they came to the decision for the exams to be conducted?

Some institutions have been set up as quarantine centers’. Some localities have banned the entry of outsiders in their locality. How are the UGC/ NU going to tackle all these issues? Are they just going to leave the students like that? Just deciding that students should give their exam and not look after all these matters, is not fair! Students are suffering emotionally and mentally and full of stress this year. If we are to appear for our exam then they should also look after all these matters so that us, the students wouldn’t face any problems. Let’s say before our exam gets over a student turns out to be a Covid-19 positive person, then will we have to stop appearing our exam just like that because the college will obviously be sealed. There is also a high chance that we might get infected with it while appearing our exam. It’s too risky. It can also lead to spreadthe virus to our family members. Some people said final year students can’t just graduate without appearing our exam and that we don’t deserve free marks. I want to ask all those people, will you be able to take responsibility for our lives? Can you provide PPE kits for all the students? You said we don’t deserve free marks, well, the final year students never asked for it. It’s not like we don’t want to give the exams but the situation compels us to. We don’t want ourselves to be called corona graduates! We have been working and striving to give our level best to reach the 6th semester/ final semester clearing all obstacles and even we don’t want to just graduate. Of course we want to graduate with our own hard work! How can we let our hard work of 3 years just end like that? We don’t want that. But the concern which we have as students is, “Are the colleges across the country ready to conduct exams where the safety of the student is guaranteed? Will the UGC and the universities be able to take responsibility for the safety of the students?”

I remember when I first joined my college, we were told by the college authorities and teachers that all the semester’s results mattered a lot and we shouldn’t neglect any semester. I remember my classmates and myself studying and giving our best to get through all the semesters. Our juniors in first and second year are promoted so why not us. What makes us different from them? Are the final year students immune to COVID-19? Will appearing our exams and graduating guarantee us a job? Well if there is a sure thing that we will get a job, we don’t mind giving our exam. Will UGC and different universities take responsibility if one, two or thousands of students get infected while giving our exam? Who will be responsible? If UGC or NU will take the responsibility and pay for all the treatments, then I and I believe all students wouldn’t mind giving the exams. 

Covid-19 doesn’t discriminate between the rich and poor, black and white, religion, caste, race, etc. Anyone can be a victim of it. They say students are the pillar of society but they are putting our life at risk and are letting us appear for our exam. I want to ask all citizens of India “Does our exam hold more weight than our lives?” Is the exam more important than our lives? Can the UGC and NU come up with better guidelines and protocols and answer these questions of thousands of students who wants to know, who will be responsible for our lives?

SoreithingRamror, 6th Sem, Dept. of Political Science,

Tetso College, Dimapur

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