COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on India and states have been struggling to curb the pandemic statistics. The pandemic has been very stressful for everyone, most specifically to students appearing for college and university exams.
States are not only confused between the mode of instructions to be followed active students enrolled in colleges and universities but also, whether examinations should be taken in offline or online mode.
With the growing numbers of cases in the country, the question has certainly changed to- whether exams should be taken at all? As some states were still struggling with what to do, Punjab has been very determinant with its choice.
On July 4, 2020, Capt Amarinder Singh, the Chief Minister of Punjab, came with a magnificent judgement of cancelling all of Punjab’s universities and colleges exams for the upcoming semesters in view of the growing COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement also stated that examinations that have already been conducted or are currently being conducted by some colleges and universities will not be cancelled and will continue in an uninterrupted manner.
Capt Amarinder Singh, on his Facebook Live Session, tried to address some questions that students had. As an answer to one of the live session questions, he said that the students would be evaluated on the basis of marks scored in previous semesters.
He also added that those students who want to improve their performances are free to do so by opting to appear for exams after the COVID pandemic subsides.
The chief minister also said that the colleges and universities in Punjab had been notified about the announcement and they have been given time to work out the modalities in order to implement the decision taken by the state government.
In the CM’s #AskCaptain FB Session, he was also seen boosting the spirits of students and asking the student community to keep working towards their goal by studying at home. He urged students to continue studying for their future, even if the exams stand cancelled.
In a recent statement published by the dean of Punjab University, R K Singla, it has been further cleared that the university has been notified of the chief minster’s announcement and the university has been working towards the announcement. However, the university has also been long waiting for the guidelines issued by the UGC.
Amarinder Singh, while announcing the cancellation of exams, also came up with a historic policy decided for the candidates appearing for Punjab Civil Services Examination.
According to his announcement, the number of attempts to appear for Punjab Civil Services Examination has been increased for ex-servicemen appearing for the examination.
The attempt for appearing in Punjab Civil Services Examination continues to be unlimited for candidates belonging to the Scheduled Caste category as per the existing Punjab Civil Services Examination Rules and Regulations.
The number of attempts for the general category has been increased to six as opposed to four attempts according to the existing Punjab Civil Services Examination Rules and Regulations.
The number of attempts for ex-servicemen belonging to the Backward Class category has been increased to nine as opposed to four attempts as mentioned in the earlier Punjab Civil Services Examination Rules and Regulations.
The chief minister said that he came to this decision after going through a number of petitions filed by ex-servicemen who wanted the number of attempts for appearing in the Punjab Civil Services Examination to be at par with the overall general category candidates.
On July 12, 2020, the University Grants Commission (UGC) issued a notification which makes final year exams a MUST in colleges and universities. According to the UGC, the exams for the final semester is very important for their future, and in the best interest of the students, the exams must not be cancelled.
UGC has implied that the mode of examination can be as flexible as possible, but cancellation is not an option. In further statements, UGC also cleared that colleges can conduct these exams by September. Colleges have ample time to decide the syllabus, mode of examination etc.
The regulatory authorities said that the best of colleges in the world are not cancelling examinations due to the pandemic, they are resorting to online assessment, but no one is awarding passing certificates without assessment.
UGC has given to the colleges and universities time till September and options of online, offline or blended mode examinations.
Students belonging to the first and second year have been exempted from examinations, and they will be evaluated on the basis of previous semester/year performance and internal assessments conducted by the college.
The secretary of UGC, Rajnish Jain, said that exams must be taken for future prospects of students and there should also be some kind of uniformity in assessment of students across colleges and universities across the country.
He also added that there was a long time till September, condition of the COVID-19 pandemic could get better at that time.
Rajnish Jain also stated that the UGC had been notified earlier of the announcements of cancellation of examination by many states.
It even received a letter from the chief minister of Punjab, and the UGC replied back giving all the possible reasons for coming to this decision and how this decision has been taken for the long-term interest of the students- keeping in mind the further education possibilities and employment opportunities of the students.
The new UGC guidelines have come to many state governments as anti-student guidelines. These guidelines have also shocked students and parents around the nations.
State governments of Punjab, Delhi, West Bengal and others have written to the UGC and the HRD Ministry to reconsider the guidelines and cancel the examinations.
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