Telangana: Thousands sign petition against offline undergrad exams

A petition on www.change.org was initiated by Fardeen Taj, a student of Muffakham Jah College requesting the Telangana government and Osmania University to conduct their exams online or to not go ahead with it due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Hyderabad: Compounding the already chaotic debate on the Telangana government’s decision to conduct offline exams, a petition started by a third-year computer science student to either scrap the tests or hold them online has garnered more than 15,000 signatures from under graduate students.

The petition, on www.change.org, was initiated by Fardeen Taj, a student of the Muffakham Jah College of Engineering & Technology. It requested the Telangana Government and Osmania University’s decision making bodies to conduct their exams online, or to not go ahead with it due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In his petition, Taj has expressed concerns over the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus which has already had a disastrous impact on young people. It also laments the fact that students are currently dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder owing to the demise of their family members and friends. Hence, conducting offline exams is ill-advised now, added his petition.

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“While I am very happy with the Telangana government in general, this decision is worrisome,” Taj said, devastated. When asked about the plight of students who may not have access to the internet to write exams, the student remarked that if that was the government’s concern, online classes should not have been conducted in the first place as well, as students from rural areas would be excluded due to the same reason.

Taj also added that while he was satisfied with the breaks given in between two exams, it would be far better if the exams were held online.

Adding to Taj’s concerns, Sarfaraz (name changed), a student of S. R. University, Warangal, expressed similar anxieties. “A faculty in our college passed away due to COVID-19. And to the best of my knowledge, five students have tested positive for COVID-19. If they attend the examination centers will it not be bad for them and for us as well?” he asked.

However, when contacted, Telangana State Council of Higher Education (TSCHE) chairman Papi Reddy told Siasat.com that they do not have the power to not conduct exams. “Universities were given a choice to choose between online and offline modes and we don’t have any say in the matter,” he said.

“Students are extremely anxious about their backlogs and supplementary exams. It would ease their concerns if they were promoted without exams this one time alone,” said Mohammad Arbaaz, a final year B.Com student of Anwar Uloom Degree College, Mallepally. He also expressed concerns over the limited duration given for preparation.

Vice-chancellor of Satavahana University S. Mallesh said that in order to help the students in his university who couldn’t access online classes, they developed a mechanism to ensure that marginalized students received copies of classroom discussions and other such material via WhatsApp.

“As for the debate between online and offline examinations, a meeting of all vice-chancellors from various universities is scheduled tomorrow to shed light on the matter,” he told Siasat.com over a phone call late on Wednesday evening.

So far, Fardeen Taj’s petition has been signed by close to 15,000 students. “When I started this petition I had no idea it would be signed by so many people. It proves that a lot of people are aggrieved by offline examinations,” he told this publication.

On Wednesday, All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi wrote to education minister P. Sabitha Reddy requesting to conduct online exams for all the colleges in question, thus lending weight to Taj’s petition.

Fardeen Taj’s petition can be accessed here:

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