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KSHEC to review examination norms

At a time when the conduct of examinations has become a subject of consternation in the State, the Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC) is set to review exam-related norms and recommend changes in tune with the COVID-19 scenario.

The government’s policy think tank on higher education has taken it upon itself to scrutinise the examination system that has been facing many issues, primarily practical difficulties induced by the outbreak. The suicide of a college student in Kottayam recently had also brought the examination regulations under scanner.

While some State varsities have gone ahead with their plan to conduct pending examinations notwithstanding the prevailing concerns, several students have voiced their disapproval citing travel hardships and the mounting anxiety that prevails amid the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases.

While universities have claimed to have reserved separate rooms in the exam centres for students who come from containment zones, allegations are rife that many examinees tend to conceal the information for fear of being ostracised among their peers.

Official sources also admit many invigilators have been reluctant to supervise examinations in such rooms. Besides, practical difficulties have also emerged in enforcing social distancing norms.

According to KSHEC vice-chairman Rajan Gurukkal P.M., examinations were being currently under guidelines drawn up to manage the crisis. “We will have to gear ourselves up for a new normal by making norms uniform and in tune with our social reality. While working on methods to circumvent challenges posed by the need to ensure physical distance, we cannot ignore the fact that our campuses are ill-equipped to ensure social distancing effectively,” he said.

Stressing on the need to tap the potential of virtual education, he highlighted the recommendations made by IGNOU Vice Chancellor Nageshwar Rao to the University Grants Commission (UGC) in which he advocated switching over to the mode for liberal arts, humanities and social sciences courses. At the same time, he cautioned against replacing classrooms with web-based learning, a move that could do little more than “computerise the existing drudgery”.

Prof. Gurukkal also advocated enhancing the e-competencies of both teachers and students and bridging the existing digital divide.

While such issues will be discussed threadbare by the KSHEC executive body on July 8, the meeting will also take up the lapses on the part of the college in Kottayam in handling the issue that concerned a 20-year old B.Com. student who committed suicide after being accused of malpractice in an examination.

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