No final-year examinations amidst COVID-19; Maharashtra govt urges UGC to change its decision

Undeterred by the Union Home Ministry’s decision that permits final year examinations to be conducted and the subsequent guidelines revised by the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Disaster Management Committee (DMC), led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, on Monday, reiterated its stand on not adhering to it because of the present COVID-19 pandemic in Maharashtra. The state government will be conveying the DMC’s decision to the Ministry of Human Resource Development and UGC.

Minister of Higher Education and Technical Education Uday Samant clarified that the state government was not averse towards conducting these examinations. However, it cannot endanger the lives of more than 9 lakh students, who will be awarded degree certificates based on the evaluation of their performances of the previous semesters and internal assessment. The vice chancellors of 13 universities have also suggested that ATKT examinations would not be possible amidst the pandemic.

“Universities have been directed to issue graduation certificates to students who don't wish to appear for the examinations. Those who wish to appear for it must give us their request in writing,” he said. “In Bengaluru, many students tested positive for COVID-19 during the Standard 10 examinations. The UGC should release guidelines on how it intends to ensure the safety of students. I want to appeal to the central government to accept our decision,” he added.

Samant said about 10 states with a population of about 40 crore have decided not to conduct final year examinations. He said parents and teachers are also against it. “Will UGC, which has issued revised guidelines, take responsibility for the health of students?” he questioned.

As reported by Free Press Journal, Samant said the state cannot put in place the necessary machinery. “There are about 12,000 containment zones, which house a population of 1 crore people. Besides, several colleges and institutions are being occupied for quarantine purposes and it will be impossible to hold examinations in such circumstances,’’ he noted.

He said the COVID-19 outbreak will be taken into account by the administration and the date for holding examinations must be fixed in consultation with the collector and district disaster management authority.

DMC’s decision comes when Shiv Sena’s youth wing Yuva Sena has mobilised more than 2 lakh signatures in its campaign against conducting final year examinations. Yuva Sena chief and Maharashtra Minister of Tourism Aaditya Thackeray last week had the UGC and Ministry of Human Resources' decision ‘absolutely absurd and probably from an alternate universe.’ Aaditya had urged UGC to not make this a silly issue of ego and realise that the lives of students, teachers and non-teaching staff are at stake.

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