The West Bengal higher education department on Thursday objected to the advisory of the central government, asking universities and other academic institutions to compulsorily conduct final-year examinations by September-end

In a letter to the HRD ministry, Principal Secretary of Department of Higher Education and School Education Department, Manish Jain, urged it to re-examine the matter in the interest of the physical/mental well-being of students amid the present COVID-19 situation.

Mr. Jain said the state should be allowed to implement its own decision by not making the revised MHRD guidelines mandatory.

“Mentioning statements like final-term examinations should be compulsorily conducted as per the revised guidelines of UGC, by the Ministry of HRD vide its letter dated 6th July, is only against the spirit of the federal structure enshrined in the Constitution, as education is placed in the concurrent list, and the state was never consulted by UGC despite sending a request for consultation with respect to framing of such guidelines…” the letter said.

With the current trend of rise in COVID-19 cases since April, “we are not sure whether the situation will be conducive for the conduct of offline examinations by September in a vast country like India,” it said.

Considering a vast section of students are still deprived of net connectivity as well, it will not be appropriate to hold online exams, Mr. Jain said.

In view of the “unforeseen, uncertain and challenging situation when educational institutions are being used as quarantine centres” and due to restrictions on rail movement and cyclone Amphan damages, West Bengal had issued an advisory for universities, giving due weightage to internal assessment and performance of candidates in previous semester to ensure transparency, the letter said.

“The students, their parents and other stakeholders have overwhelmingly appreciated the advisory,” Mr. Jain added.

According to a revised guideline issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC), students unable to appear in final-year exams in September will get another chance, and universities will conduct special exams “as and when feasible.

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