College semester exams: TN CM writes to HRD Minister

Chennai: Expressing inability to conduct the final semester exams by September in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami today urged the Centre to give the liberty to States to work out its own assessment methods without compromising on the quality and academic credibility.

In a Demi-Official letter to Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, he said many States in the country have decided not to conduct the final semester examinations.

“In order to ensure career opportunities, future prospects and to simultaneously safeguard the principles of health, safety, fair and equal opportunity for students, the States may be given the freedom to work out its own assessment methods, without compromising on the quality and academic credibility”, he said.

He also requested him to direct the respective apex authorities like University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Council of Architecture (COA), Pharmacy Council of India (PCI), National Council of Teachers Education (NCTE) and National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology to endorse the decisions of the respective State Governments, which would be based on the local prevailing COVID 19 conditions.

“This would go a long way in rendering justice and fairness to the parents and the students, during these distressful times”, Palaniswami added.

Pointing out that the Covid-19 pandemic was showing a surge in various parts of the country, including Tamilnadu, he said his government has been taking all required measures to contain the spread of disease, as well as to provide comprehensive treatment to the infected people.

Though the efforts of the Government has borne good results, any minor let up may still pose a challenge to the State, he said and added that due to the progressive policies of the State Government, Tamilnadu has the highest Gross Enrollment Ratio of 49 per cent among the States, resulting in large number of students studying in various Universities, Colleges and Polytechnics.

Though we had scheduled their semester examinations in April this year, it could not be conducted as scheduled because of Covid-19 pandemic.

Pointing out the April 29 guidelines issued by the UGC giving flexibility to the Universities and Colleges for the conduct of examinations, without any restrictions on the guidelines/directions issued by the appropriate Government /Competent Authority, Palaniswami said the new guidelines which were issued on 6 July mandated that all educational institutions across the country should conduct the final semester exams by September.

Observing that the new guidelines has many constraints and difficulties which include the students reaching the examination centres, as many of them were residing outside the district, outside the State and some even outside the country, he said it was also not feasible to conduct online examinations, considering the various issues relating to digital access to the students.

Moreover, most of the government and private arts and science and engineering colleges, polytechnics and other institutions of Higher learning (including the hostels, classrooms etc.,) in the State have been converted as Covid care centres for housing asymptomatic positive persons under quarantine and these centres would continue as Covid centres for some more time.

“Therefore, if we are not in a position to conduct the exams even after waiting till September, it will jeopardise the future of the students who are in their final year/ semester,” he said.

Moreover, it will also unnecessarily affect the future of the students who were recruited through campus selections and the students who have applied for courses abroad, who may have to join in the month of October, after the ban.