To ensure minimum contact in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, Delhi University will ask students to get their own sheets of paper to write answers during the offline open-book exams (OBE) scheduled from September 14. The university will also allow undergraduate and postgraduate students to take electronic gadgets such as cellphones, laptops or tablets to the examination halls.
The university had on Wednesday filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court, saying it would conduct a second phase of open-book exams for students, who did not appear in the first phase held from August 10 to August 31, in both the online and offline (physical test at the university centre) mode.
It said students can take the exams at the examination centre in Delhi or online (if they cannot travel due to the pandemic).
Mentioning the norms that would be followed during the physical exams, the university in its affidavit said, “The students for both the mode of examinations i.e. physical or ICT (Information and Communication Technology) based activities shall answer the questions on plain/ruled A4 size paper and shall use their own papers for writing their answers… There will be no physical assistance during examinations in the college and Departments. All required stationery to be used for examinations shall have to be arranged by students for examinations.”
Besides the stationery, face masks, sanitiser and electronic gadgets will also be allowed inside the exam centres.
“All electronic gadgets shall be permissible during examinations. Question papers may be sent on WhatsApp or email during examinations instead of printed paper. However, students can submit their request to get the physical question paper for examinations to the college/department as per date sheet [sic],” the affidavit added.
DU dean of colleges Balaram Pani said that students will be asked to bring answer sheets to ensure minimum contact. “It will not be possible to sanitise the answer scripts. Also, gadgets will be required to access question papers and study material for the open-book exams,” he said.
The second phase of examinations will be conducted for final-year students of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, including those enrolled in the School of Open Learning (SOL) and Non-Collegiate Women’s Education Board (NCWEB), who have either not written the exams or have failed to upload/submit the scanned images of the answer scripts in the first phase. Besides, students in the PWD (persons with disabilities) category, who had appeared in the first phase of examination but wish to improve their performance in selected papers, can take the second phase of examinations.
Teachers said that most students will still prefer to appear in exams remotely, if given an option. Pankaj Garg, an associate professor at Rajdhani College, said, “How will students bring all their study material for open-book exams to the exam centre? It’s not also possible to get everything on mobile phones. They will have to get laptops or iPads with study material on them. This won’t serve the purpose at all. A majority of the students who could not appear in the first phase of exams are those who did not have gadgets.”
Rajesh Jha, member of the university’s executive council (EC), said, “Those who could not appear in the first phase of exams will not be able to overcome the constraints within a few days. And travelling amid the pandemic is a huge risk. The university should have provided the centres in the candidates’ respective cities instead of calling them all the way to Delhi.”
Students are still not sure about the feasibility of physical exams. Sangeeta (who goes by her first name), a final-year student from a south Delhi college and a resident of Jharkhand said, “How will we travel to Delhi during a pandemic? Public transport is not regular. I could not appear in the first phase because of the lack of Internet in my village. I do not know which option to choose now.”
For visually challenged students, accessing study material during the exam will remain a challenge. Deepak Gupta, a visually impaired postgraduate student at St Stephen’s College, said that gadgets will not be useful for them without assistive devices. “We cannot read printed books. We use two types of devices. One is a laptop or netbook with a screen reader software and another is DAISY (digital accessible information system) players. These players have recorded study material. The colleges first have to provide them to us for the open-book exams along with a writer,” he said.