'Am I Covid-19 promoted?' was the question being asked by around 247 students from the Amravati Agricultural College, affiliated to the Akola Agricultural University, on seeing their marksheets and certificates for the first, second and third-year degree courses which said so, at the very outset.
Students and parents took strong objection to the words ‘Promoted Covid 19’, saying this would lead to social stigmatisation. Students also argued that this would create major problems in their further education.Taking a serious note of outrage, Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Dadaji Bhuse swung into action and ordered an inquiry. He has written to the Director General of Maharashtra, Agriculture Education and Research Council and the vice-chancellors of these agricultural universities to probe the matter, which will reveal who gave such orders.
Students have described the use of the phrase 'Promoted (Covid19)' on their marksheets as "unacceptable and demotivating". Kalaruti Mahajan, a student, said, "It is demotivating to read the term on our results because it indicates that we have been promoted only because of the COVID-19 pandemic situation and not due to our performance. It will also send a wrong message when we apply for jobs or seek admissions for higher studies."
Bhuse told The Free Press Journal, ‘‘The department had not directed the four agriculture universities to mark students as 'Promoted Covid 19'. This is the only case, involving 247 students, that too from Akola College that has come to the fore. I have immediately ordered an inquiry. All those 247 students will get new mark sheets and certificates. In all, 28,000 students from four agricultural universities will get regular marksheets and certificates, without these words.’’Because of the pandemic and lockdown, only some students could appear for the examinations. Most of them could not do so because of strict lockdown curbs, said Bhuse.
‘‘The universities decided to declare students passed after taking into consideration their performance during the year. But the department had not given any directive to say 'Promoted Covid 19' on the marksheets,’’ he repeated. Bhuse’s decision comes a day after the disaster management committee chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had reiterated its earlier decision to cancel final-year examinations in 13 non-agricultural universities because of the present Covid-19 crisis.
Over nine lakh students will be awarded degree certificates, based on the evaluation of their performance in previous semesters and internal assessments. Satish Gore, state coordinator for education and universities' outreach at the Maharashtra Pradesh Youth Congress (MPYC) said, "Such a phrase will undermine the significance of the degree and the previous performance of students. This mistake should not be repeated by any other university or college."
Vaibhav Edke, president of the Maharashtra Students Welfare Association (MSWA) said, "The use of such a phrase is unacceptable, as it will hamper the future of students."
(With inputs from Ronald Rodrigues)