Students protest as Jamia insists they must have own laptop, internet to take exams

General guidelines for the students appearing for the proctored online examinations released by Jamia Milia Islamia have sent students and parents to a dilemma.

According to the Controller of Examinations (COE), undergraduate and postgraduate students of Jamia Millia Islamia sitting for the proctored online examinations starting December 21 will have to ensure “uninterrupted power and good internet connectivity” and will “be responsible for any lapses on this front.”

The guidelines released last day have gathered students to protest. Students took to Twitter to register their protest saying the proctored mode of examination would be discriminatory to marginalised students and those with limited digital access.

“All the requirements to meet the exam are only possible for a small percentage of the privileged Information society. A country like India has seen binary of digitalization and the disappointing result in student population,” Fadil Abdulla, an undergraduate student told Maktoob.

According to the guidelines; “Students will require to appear in the examination using the latest version of Firefox browser, a Windows laptop/PC with a stable internet connection and web camera. Students would also need a smartphone to click images of their handwritten answers and for uploading the same. These are mandatory…”

“Students are advised to make sure they make their own arrangements for uninterrupted power and good internet connectivity for the complete duration of the test. Students would themselves be responsible for any lapses on this front so they are advised to make sure adequate backup is in place. Students are required to adhere to the maximum time allotted to the examination and in addition to it, 15 minutes of extra time is allotted to students to upload their hand-written answers in an A4 size paper in the PDF format… Extra caution should be exercised by students that all pages of the response are clicked, converted in PDF format, and successfully uploaded… No request… with regard to any discrepancy in uploading the response shall be entertained at any point,” the guidelines state.

Students said Jamia is endorsing a Digital Divide in the name of semester exams.

The Digital Divide refers to the gap between those able to benefit from the internet and those who are not. The Digital Divide rears its ugly head amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as school and university closures have led to moving classes and exams online.

“Online proctor-exams are not going to help the majority of students. The COVID-19 crisis mentally and financially impacted every student,” Laraib Neyazi who is studying gender studies at Jamia said.

According to Sana Khair, a student at Jamia, power cuts in Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, and North-Eastern states will jeopardize the AI-based tests.

Kashmir students body, former CM Mehbooba Mufti express concern

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and senior PDP politician Mehbooba Mufti also requested Jamia Millia Islamia authorities to look for alternatives and said the new guidelines are “deeply problematic for students hailing from Jammu and Kashmir.”

“Jamia University’s decision to hold exams in proctored online mode which requires laptops & high speed data for 3 hours is deeply problematic for students hailing from J&K.Request them to look for alternatives so that these bright minds don’t suffer,” she tweeted.

Jammu and Kashmir Students Association, an independent body of Jammu and Kashmir students who study outside Kashmir, wrote letters to Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Jamia Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar to scrap online proctored mode of examination say guidelines reinforce the spirit of elitism into education system, it makes education a privilege in place of right.