Last week, one staff member at Sher-E-Kashmir University Of Agricultural Sciences And Technology Of Kashmir (SKUAST), Ganderbal, tested positive for COVID-19, but the college went on to issue the examination date sheet for BTech students, which is scheduled to take place from September 8 to 12 – without any gap.
According to the students, the staff member who contracted the virus came in contact with the supervisor who, according to the college notice, will be on invigilation duty on one of the examination days. Some students, who are currently living in different parts of Kashmir, have also have started showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Therefore, the students are requesting the university to allow them to write their examinations online.
“Will it be safe for all of us to travel to the examination centre when not the only the staff has coronavirus but some students too are showing symptoms? I live 80 km away from the college, how will I find the time to study if the maximum time is spent in travelling to college each day?” said a BTech student.
One student is from Ladakh and since the highways are currently closed, she will have to take alternate routes to be able to reach the examination centre. “Also, if she is able to come somehow, she will have to make living and eating arrangements on her own with the university providing no assurance,” reads a joint statement written by the students.
The college, students say, has shut its mess and hostel services and therefore whoever comes from far away places will have to arrange for their accommodation elsewhere. The hostels have been converted to a COVID centre, according to students.
Also, even though there is only 2G internet service in most areas of Kashmir, students say that they are still willing to take the examination online instead of putting their lives at risk when the college is neither providing transportation, nor accommodation services.
“We gave our mid-term and internal exams online using 2G services and we can manage that, but we don’t want to come to the examination centre, especially when we are already aware that one of the staff has coronavirus,” added the student.
While the university, students say, has conferred degrees to other departments, they don’t want to apply the same rule to the batch of 30 BTech students.
“We understand the importance of exams and simply a promotion would not do a student any good. But we also believe that a persons’ health should be a priority, considering the number of cases are increasing at an alarming rate in the valley,” reads the joint statement.
According to the students, last year, they had swapped their seventh semester with the final semester after Article 370 was revoked. Hence, they have already completed their final semester and have also submitted their final thesis. The current examination is for their seventh semester which, students say, the college has been delaying since July.
The college administration, students say, stands firm on its decision, and says that the examination will be conducted as per the schedule. According to the students, the education ministry also couldn’t extend any help because their college doesn’t fall under the purview of the University Grants Commission.
“It is a rash decision taken by the university without considering its repercussions and the amount of stress it will impose on the students who are unable to appear in these examinations, due to the Covid crisis,” said another student.
Featured image credit: SKUAST Kashmir/Facebook