On August 10, the Supreme Court questioned the University Grants Commission (UGC) regarding college exams being cancelled in Maharashtra under the National Disaster Management Act.
On the same day, in the Human Resource Development (HRD) Parliamentary Standing Committee meeting, Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal said no timeline has been decided yet regarding the reopening of schools in the country.
Read on to find out more…
UGC Adamant That Students Have to Give An Exam To Get A Degree!
Amidst the COVID-19 resultant lockdown, the UGC had formed two committees to look into the matter of academic loss and online education.
The committee appointed by the UGC had recommended the commencement of academic session in universities and higher educational institutions from September.
The Maharashtra and Delhi government have refused to conduct final-year exams due escalating COVID-19 cases in the states.
On Monday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for UGC questioned the three-judge bench comprising Justices Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah ‘how can states cancel exams and expect UGC to confer degree’ when the UGC ‘is the only body to confer degrees.’
Upon which the bench posed a counter question if the Disaster Management Act overrides the UGC’s guidelines.
The SC was hearing a number of pleas of students from different states challenging the UGC’s circular dated July 6 directing universities to conduct final year examinations by the end of September. The students had requested mark calculation based on internal assessment or past performance instead of conducting exams.
After seeking a reply and giving time to the UGC the next hearing is posted on August 14.
SG Mehta said, “Students have to continue preparing for exams. If exams are not conducted, the students will not be granted degrees. That’s the law!”
Earlier, the UGC had told the Supreme Court that it had framed the guidelines to protect the ‘academic future of students across the country’ which it said would be ‘irreparably damaged if their final year, terminal examinations are not held.’ It had also incorporated exceptions that in case, students are unable to appear, then they would be given a later date of a specially-conducted exam.
On one hand UGC stays firm on their decision, while on the other hand Maharashtra and Delhi Governments have informed the SC that they have cancelled the final-year examinations.
It will be interesting to see what the SC rules. Although students can be seen suffering the most amidst these politics!
School Kab Chalenge Hum?
As per the Unlock 3 guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs after extensive consultation with states and union territories, all educational institutions in the country are to remain closed till August 31.
Pokhriyal said in a webinar, “We are continuously in communication with the stakeholders. There were decisions taken regarding exams and academic activities in the past 5 months.”
He added, “We are taking decisions keeping the realities in mind. But in 10-15 days, there will be discussions regarding reopening of schools and HEIs with the Home/Health Ministry and state governments. No decision will be taken without keeping students’ safety in mind.”
The statement issued by the Centre also stated that the decision of reopening the educational institutions will also depend on the COVID-19 status in the country.
So far, only the Union Territory of Chandigarh has expressed its intention to open schools.