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Assam engineering students protest against offline exam

GUWAHATI: State engineering college students have expressed their inability to prepare for offline exams in February-March covering the full syllabus after months of online classes because of the pandemic.

Student organisations are backing engineering students, which may soon take the shape of a protest. The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) on Wednesday demanded that the Assam Science and Technology University (ASTU), which controls state engineering colleges, to opt for a reduction in syllabus volume and choose the objective format with multiple choices and with the provision of grace marks. Engineering colleges formally opened their campuses in the state on February 1. But they have been instructed by the state education department to call students to the campus in batches to avoid the rush.

“Engineering is all about applied science, technology and practical knowledge. Implementation of new ideas and techniques was already absent in our course. When it comes to the online mode of learning, it fails to provide the minimum required skills and knowledge. Besides, this mode does not support practical learning of technical courses,” said a representative of the All Assam State Engineering Students’ forum.

He added that now we have been forced into offline exams, although all these months we were studying in the online mode. “Attending online classes are also difficult because not every student has access to the facility and there are technical problems, too,” he said.

The forum recently moved ASTU demanding reduction of the course volume but they had not received any response. When contacted, ASTU vice-chancellor Dhiraj Bora said it would be a hand-written exam. He said he was not aware of any move to bring down the course volume.

“All India Council for Technical Education has instructed exams in the offline mode. Continuous evaluation and practical exam marks have to be sent to us by respective engineering colleges. The main exams are being held offline in various institutions of other states. Assam should not be an exception,” Bora said.

The engineering students, in their memorandum, said that institutes of national importance like the NITs have opted for mini-project submission, Sikkim Manipal University has conducted MCQ test and most of them such as KIIT and VIT have chosen open book test as a means of examination. The forum asserted that such an alternative is better suited for students, taking into account how negatively this pandemic has affected learning, health and mental balance.

SFI’s Assam unit said the offline exam notification has thrown up a lot of issues. “Though classes were carried out online, they were of little help because of the huge digital divide in the student community,” SFI said in a statement on Wednesday.

SFI state secretary Nirangkush Nath, an engineering graduate, said though an online library facility was provided to the students, a large section could not access it during the pandemic. So it has become impossible for students to prepare for offline exams with the full syllabus.

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