EFLU students protest online exams, call university’s decision ‘impractical’

The English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad’s decision to conduct the end-semester examinations online due to pandemic controlled restrictions was denounced by Students’ Union of the varsity.

The EFLU Students’ Union demanded that while the online exams are conducted, an alternative arrangement should be made for the Physically disabled students and those students who don’t have access to laptops, PCs and internet facilities.

“Since the lockdown students have been facing difficulties in attending the online classes. There are students who live in areas with less network and also there are physically impaired students. It is completely impractical for them to appear for the end semester exams online,” Samar Ali, general secretary of EFLU Students’ Union told Maktoob.

The EFLU decided to conduct the end-semester examinations scheduled for May 2020 online using the open-book or take-home examinations or term papers or assignment/ projects. The decision was taken during the 12th academic council meeting on 9th April.

The Students’ Union drafted a letter with several concerns the students had raised regarding the conduct of online examination in accordance with the existing academic calendar. They demanded an extension of the exam date the last week of May. The Union also asked them to extend the deadline for submission of dissertations as students were not able to access resources for their research work.

Concerns were raised by the students about professors asking them to submit assignments for attendance along with loading them with internal assignments. The Union asked for a complete waiver of attendance for the ongoing semester as done by the University of Hyderabad and many other Central Universities. There were several other major concerns of Ph.D. scholars the Council had mentioned in the letter with regard to their thesis submissions, progress reports and asked for an extension for them of about six months.

“When major central Universities have taken decisions that reduce the pressure on students owing to the anxieties due to the pandemic and have displayed a considerate approach towards their students, the EFLU administration is being extremely adamant, insensitive, inconsiderate, exclusionary and blatantly undemocratic and anti-student,” Students Union said in a statement.

Digital Divide

Educational Institutions across the world are having a field day in covering up their academic goals. Many Universities and Schools have rolled out compulsory guidelines over online classes which are being followed strictly. But then the main question that pops up is about the consistency and the seriousness which online classes lack to a very big extent plus the technological barricades that many students face, for not every student can afford expensive phones and high-speed internet.

Aishwarya K., A professor in the English Department of Jamia Millia Islamia says, “Online classes do help in having communication and trying to connect with the students to assist them with their queries regarding the syllabus but then a lot of commitment is needed. You miss out on the element of engaging everybody’s interest and knowing what’s going on, you can see the faces but it’s not as fun and productive as it is when you are physically present. If the Professor is serious in holding online classes, at times students aren’t even if they want to, because many problems like proper internet connection and equipment are unavailable to them.”

The students in Kashmir are suffering due to the slow 2G services. Kashmiri students find it impossible to even download a 10 Mb file rather than having video calls for online classes. Internet service had been blocked in the region in August of last year and placing it under lockdown.

At the end of January, the Indian authorities restored mobile 2G Internet, which allows users to send and receive SMS messages but not much more. Low-speed fixed-line Internet was restored on 5 March but continues to be subject to MAC-binding, which makes pages very slow to load.

“The internet speed is very slow. It is 6kb per second now,” 22-Year-old Muhammed Bhatt told Maktoob.

Students who are from backward areas and have no multimedia phones are also victims of lack of technology.

Sybil Farha Khan, A teacher in Greenwood school, Rampur; states, “We, every fourth day are uploading videos explaining chapters in detail, so many teachers of our school are holding online classes but it’s no use whatsoever for these students are basically teenagers and we all know how ignorant they are. They won’t keep up until and unless they are explained in the class. Social media is what they believe in when it comes to the main use of their androids. Yes, there are exceptions who are keeping up with the daily work but then it’s not as productive as it is directly in class. Also, many students can’t afford the fees let alone the fact of buying multimedia phones.”

Abdul Ahad, A student of class 12th says, “It’s very difficult to attend the class as half the time goes by in confirming whether everyone is online or not. And the same old problem of proper internet, one of my friends can’t afford tuitions nor multimedia. His parents barely make it for the school fees, when he used to study he used call me up and ask my help in making him explain particular points. I don’t know how he’s keeping up with the class work which is assigned to us on a daily basis.”

Saher Hiba Khan is a freelance journalist based in New Delhi and she studies English literature at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

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