As India's coronavirus tally inches closer to the eight-lakh mark, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today criticised the decision of the top educational body in the country - the University Grants Commission or UGC - to conduct the final-term examinations in colleges and educational institutions by September amid pandemic.
Hitting out at the UGC, he tweeted: "It is extremely unfair to conduct exams during the Covid19 pandemic. UGC must hear the voice of the students and academics. Exams should be cancelled and students promoted on basis of past performance (sic)."
In a video message, the 50-year-old Congress MP from Kerala's Wayanad is heard saying: "Covid has harmed a lot of people. Our students in schools, colleges, universities have been struggling. IITs have promoted students after cancelling exams. The UGC is creating confusion."
It is extremely unfair to conduct exams during the Covid19 pandemic.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 10, 2020
UGC must hear the voice of the students and academics. Exams should be cancelled and students promoted on basis of past performance.#SpeakUpForStudentspic.twitter.com/1TYY3q58i0
The former Congress chief has been attacking the government over its handling of COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak.
On Monday, the Union Home Ministry said that the final-term exams in colleges and educational institutions - pending since March because of the lockdown to check the spread of highly infectious coronavirus - can be held.
Hours later, fresh guidelines were released by the UGC that said the exams can be held in September. The UGC is the top body in the country charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education.
As a part of the "standard operating procedure" (SOP) for conducting the final-year or end-semester examinations, the educational institutions have been advised to hold the final-year or end-semester exams by September, 2020 in pen-and-paper, online mode or a "blended" mode.
The guidelines were tweeted by Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal "Nishank".
The UGC has revisited its earlier guidelines related to university examinations.— Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (@DrRPNishank) July 6, 2020
In view of the safety, career progression and placements of the students and their larger interests, after consulting @HMOIndia and @MoHFW_INDIA, it has been decided that pic.twitter.com/evKTYPwnIa
Several states have sought reconsideration of the guidelines. On Thursday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh tweeted that he would write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, seeking cancellation of the exams.
In view of the prevailing #Covid19 situation, have decided to write to PM @NarendraModi ji to request him to review UGC's decision on holding mandatory examinations for exit classes. We cannot risk the health of our students and, therefore, a pragmatic approach must be adopted. pic.twitter.com/H3KFZXmi3a— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) July 9, 2020
Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal have also expressed concern.
"State Government has today sent a letter to MHRD requesting to reconsider the revised guidelines of UGC and not to make conduct of UG & PG final term exams mandatory. MHRD has been requested to allow the State Government to adhere to its decision of cancellation of these exams," the Directorate of Higher Education (DHE), Odisha tweeted on Thursday.
State Government has today sent a letter to MHRD requesting to reconsider the revised guidelines of UGC and not to make conduct of UG & PG final term exams mandatory. MHRD has been requested to allow the State Government to adhere to its decision of cancellation of these exams.— ଉଚ୍ଚଶିକ୍ଷା ବିଭାଗ, ଓଡିଶା ସରକାର ???????? (@DHE_Odisha) July 9, 2020
In a letter to the HRD ministry, Bengal's Principal Secretary of Department of Higher Education and School Education Department, Manish Jain said the state should be allowed to implement its own decision by not making the revised Education Ministry's guidelines mandatory.
Defending its decision, the UGC had said earlier this week said that top ranking institutes like Princeton, MIT, University of Cambridge, Imperial College of London, University of Toronto and McMaster, University of Heidelberg and University of Hong Kong have resorted to the online technology-based mode of examinations.