Aligarh Muslim University considers alternate exam modes

Aligarh: In the wake of the extended Nation-wide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 outbreak, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Vice Chancellor, Professor Tariq Mansoor pointed out that the university is exploring various alternate modes of conducting examinations, including ‘Online Examinations’, if possible, particularly for final year students.

The Vice Chancellor said that the University will give priority to the final year students and admission tests for various programmes as these issues are linked to public health concerns during the Coronavirus pandemic and will be considered after due consultations depending upon how the situation unfolds.

In a letter addressed to AMU teachers, students and their parents and the AMU Fraternity; Prof Mansoor informed that the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)/ University Grants Commission (UGC), Government of India (GoI) has already constituted two expert committees to look into the matter.

“One of these committees has been constituted for matters regarding ‘Online Teaching’ and ‘Online Examination’, while the other is working to chalk out an ‘Academic Calendar’to deal with schedule of admissions and other issues,” said the Vice Chancellor.

He added that the report of these two expert committees are expected soon and decisions will be taken accordingly in the best interests of students in the given difficult circumstances.

“These are not ideal times and solutions may also not be ideal,” said the Vice Chancellor.

The letter stated: “The National Lockdown has been extended till May 3 (subject to some exemptions w.e.f. 20 April). We will continuously monitor the situation at regular intervals and take the best decisions for students.”

Addressing the AMU teaching staff, the Vice Chancellor said: “For teachers, the current challenges should be translated into opportunities to acquire new skills in virtual teaching-learning-evaluation methods. The teachers who are engaging online classes through Google Classroom, Google Hangouts, Jitsi, Zoom etc. deserve appreciation, and others are encouraged to follow suit without further delay.”

He said that in the current situation, it is imperative to go ahead with online teaching-learning in whatever mode it is feasible and to cover as much syllabus as possible under the prevailing difficult circumstances.

“While we are aware of obstacles regarding internet connectivity in few areas, but let us all try to make maximum use of online teaching-learning processes because universities may not find it possible to conduct physical classroom lectures/practicals for some time to come. The teaching community should be ready to make small sacrifices, if required, to safeguard the academic interests of our students, especially those in the final year of their programmes:” Prof Mansoor mentioned in the letter.

He further said that since the problem of this infection may remain for a significant time and physical distancing will be an integral part of it, in such a situation, instead of merely highlighting problems which are common to everybody, we all need to rise to the occasion by working on solutions through innovations related to online teaching and examination.

“Efforts can be made to help colleagues who may require support due to limited technology skills and Chairpersons of Departments can form a group of two to three teachers within their department to help those who require assistance,” said Prof Mansoor adding that the younger teachers should come forward to lead the way as ‘Online Education’ may be the pivot on which higher education will evolve in future.

He also announced that AMU is arranging an orientation course on ‘Online Teaching’ by UGC HRDC Centre/Computer Centre for teachers, which may be counted for promotion of teachers under both CAS/Direct Cadre.

Prof Mansoor said, “The Website Committee/Computer Centre is running a helpline for teachers in need of assistance. Faculties and Departments are advised to conduct webinars on important academic topics to augment the teaching learning process. The invitation links and proceedings of webinars can be uploaded on university website and further be publicised on University social media forums.”

Teachers and students may also attend webinars conducted by other universities and organizations, said the Vice Chancellor.

Nevertheless, he pointed out that solutions may vary in different universities since all universities are different with their unique issues and features dependent on location, diversity, infrastructure and demographic composition of students.

He urged the teaching and non-teaching staff and students to strictly follow social distancing and lockdown guidelines of the Government and to take care of personal hygiene by regularly washing hands, wearing masks at public places and disinfecting surfaces.