Combating Covid-19 impacts on education

1 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on higher education as universities throughout the country remained closed for a long period. Closure of universities has affected both learning and examinations of students. Because of the crisis, session jam has staged a comeback in universities. Anyway, private universities took prompt measures to avoid the jam from the very beginning of the pandemic. They replaced face-to-face lectures with online learning. At a certain stage, these universities even assigned grades to students without taking examinations.  In this situation, the University Grants Commission (UGC) asked them to halt grading and online examinations without holding semester finals.

However, as per request from private universities, the UGC revoked its directive. Later, the official regulator of universities issued a 14-point directive allowing them to hold online assessments in order to complete running semesters, with some conditions. Anyhow, students of these universities overcame the menace of session jam to some extent as most of them come from the affluent section of society.

But, students of public universities coming from a wider socio-economic background got entangled in a lengthy session jam.  A study conducted by the UGC revealed that 13 per cent of these students do not have smart phones to take part in online classes or examinations. Even for those, who have suitable devices, costly data and poor internet connection in rural areas have been a big problem. Covid-19 has virtually widened the educational inequality between the rich and the poor, between those from urban and rural backgrounds. As a consequence, the disadvantaged students are unable to come out of the vicious circle of session jam.

However, to overcome the curse of session jam, the UGC has finally allowed the country’s universities to hold in-person examination. We term it as a right decision as we think it will provide an equal opportunity to each and every student irrespective of their socio-economic background. The country’s universities, especially the 49 public universities, have full seating arrangements for holding in-person examinations. But, the authorities of these universities must have to fulfil a condition set by the Commission to strictly maintain the social distancing norms and following the hygiene guidelines thoroughly.