The unprecedented disruption in academic activities caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed the country’s public universities into session jams again.
Students and teachers of most of the public universities are passing idle times as academic activities remain almost halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.All the 49 public universities in the country remain closed since March 24 last year.
The correspondent reached out to authorities of a number of public universities, all of whom said the session jam would hold students back for at least one and a half years.
Academics said if the shutdown is prolonged further, there is a strong possibility that session jams will increase significantly and it may hold students back by two years.
Faculty members of many universities on their own or with support from the university authorities are conducting online classes amid the Covid-19 pandemic. But the universities could not hold the final examinations as in-person classroom activities remained suspended due to the pandemic.
Sources said students of different courses at the universities completed their syllabus six months or one year ago but their semester final exams are yet to be held due to the closures.
Many students also alleged that they are passing a hard time as they cannot take part in different recruitment tests as their final year examination is being held due to the Covid-19 situation.Amid the situation, the University Grants Commission (UGC) on Thursday held a meeting with vice-chancellors of all public universities to discuss the process of holding online exams.
At the meeting, the UGC allowed public universities to hold online exams for reducing session jams.
Talking to the Daily Sun, UGC Chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah said, “We allowed the public universities to hold exams online following decision of their respective academic councils and deans committees.”
“We prepared a guideline on how to hold online exams at the universities amid the pandemic situation with a view to reducing session jams and it will be sent to the universities after ministry’s approval,” he said.
“We cannot say when the coronavirus situation will end. So, we have to learn to live with it,” he added.
Ahmed Adib Araf, a 3rd-year student of the Department of Public Administration at Dhaka University, said, “At present, we are supposed to be in 7th semester but our fifth-semester final exam is yet to be completed.”
Araf who admitted at the 2017-18 academic session also said, “Our fifth-semester exam was scheduled to be held early of last year but the exam could not be held due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Expressing frustration, the DU student also said if the shutdown of the universities is prolonged, there is a strong possibility that session jams will intensify.
Noman Hasan, a student of the department of public administration at Jagannath University (JnU), said, “Our Masters’ final examination was scheduled to be held in December last year but the exam is yet to be held due to the closure of the university.”
Almost all the students of the public universities across the country are facing session jam from six month to one year due to the closure of universities.
The academic activities came to a halt due to the ongoing pandemic situation. Many universities are conducting online activities but the participation of the students in the online classes is very poor.
Talking to the Daily Sun, JnU Vice-chancellor (acting) Prof Dr Kamaluddin Ahmed said, “We are conducting online classes to make up loses of the students amid the pandemic but we cannot take the final examination as in-person classes are still suspended.”
About the session jam, Prof Kamaluddin said, “We have already taken preparation to hold all pending examinations of different courses within two weeks soon after reopening of the university.”
Due to the pandemic, the public universities started conducting online education but at the beginning, many students said they have been unable to participate in most classes due to poor Internet facilities and lack of devices.
Later, the University Grants Commission (UGC) provided over 41,000 students of public universities with Tk 8,000 each interest-free loan to buy smartphones to participate in online classes.
But now the students said they cannot participate in the online classes due to the poor speed of the internet and many students alleged that the online classes are in name only.
After one year of closure, on February 22 Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni announced that all universities would reopen on May 24, after Eid-ul-Fitr.
But the reopening of the universities on the scheduled date is still uncertain as the Covid-19 pandemic situation has not improved while most of the students and teachers are yet to receive vaccines.