Conducting exams admist pandemic will be “discriminatory” : Kapil Sibal

Universities should not conduct examinations amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and even holding online exams will be “discriminatory” towards the students hailing from poor households, said Kapil Sibal in a PTI interview on Sunday.

The senior Congress leader also expressed his opinion on the cancellation of board exams. He said “What has happened is that half the year has been lost and we don’t know how long this pandemic will continue. There is no need for Class 10 board exams for a while for these two years — this year and next year — and then they could relook at this policy.”

Kapil Sibal had served as the human resource development minister from May 2009 – October 2012. “Thank god they have listened to some sane advice and they have cancelled the board exams. Consider the impact it would have had, especially on the poor students who don’t have access to any online facilities,” he said.

Sibal remarked that in such a time of a pandemic, exams should not be conducted. Holding online exams will be “discriminatory” to the students who live in remote areas of the country and have no access to any such resources.

He said “See you are creating an elitist culture where the advantage goes to the rich which have access to online facilities and to those institutions which are privileged to provide online facilities and online teaching.”

Several universities have decided to conduct online exams including Aligarh Muslim University. Delhi University has postponed the OBE for final year students by 10 days, keeping in view the prevailing health crises.

Sibal also presented his opinion on the evaluation process and promotion of the students of intermediate years. He said that final year students must be awarded their degrees on the basis of their past performance and can later give exams as and when they have the material.

Asked if the Centre should introduce a uniform policy for examinations in universities, Sibal said the problem is that universities are independent institutions and the government can’t decide what they should do or not.

The universities have a level of autonomy, but they themselves should find innovative ways to deal with a situation rather than have an “elitist approach and say we have decided, this is what is going to happen and we are not going to see the situation on the ground”.

He emphasised that asserting their decision on poor students is very poor management of education.