On Thursday, following a meeting with Telangana Education Minister Sabita Indrareddy, Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar and other officials, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao announced that the academic year for engineering students would resume from August 17.
“To uphold the academic sanctity, it was decided to follow the University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) guidelines and conduct examinations for degree, PG, Engineering final year students. While others will be promoted to the next class without any examination,” a communique issued by the Chief Minister’s Office read.
However, amidst the pandemic, the statement failed to address the important question of how this will be implemented. This lack of clarity has worried the students, teachers, parents, college managements and all the other stakeholders involved.
Speaking to TNM, SFI Telangana Secretary, Nagaraju said, “In the state, most of the engineering colleges are located in Hyderabad, Rangareddy and Medchal districts. And these districts have the most number of cases. So how will the government ensure the safety of the students?”
He also pointed to the lack of clarity in holding exams of final year students. “The government has failed to provide any clarity on this issue. Will they conduct the exams - online or offline? If online, how would they ensure that all the students get a steady internet connection, and if it is offline how is it possible to conduct the exams when the state is steadily witnessing an increase in COVID-19 cases?”
Nagaraju said that several students from rural districts have to come to Hyderabad if they have to attend the exams, and if so, the hostels have to be reopened. “Is it not a disaster in the making when hundreds of students are made to stay in the same place?” he said.
Similarly, another student leader, Venkat Narsing Rao from the NSUI said, “The Chief Minister has failed to provide clarity about how the engineering academic year would begin? Just making an announcement will not suffice. The announcement has put all the students, teachers and parents in distress. The Chief Minister should hold a press meet and detail every aspect about their preparedness. When other states are going back to lockdown as the coronavirus cases are increasing rapidly, why has this government taken such a hasty decision? Several students are stressed out about this and have been reaching out to me.”
On July 6, the UGC in its revised guidelines on examinations and academic calendar for the universities said that all their examinations should be completed by the end of September. This decision has been opposed by the students from several states, who accuse the UGC of endangering the lives of students. Not just the students, the states of Punjab and Rajasthan have expressed their inability to conduct the examinations, considering the coronavirus pandemic.
GVK Reddy, president of the Telangana Engineering College Managements Association said, “We have not received any information about how the government plans to conduct the examinations. Even we are waiting for clarity. I do not know how it is possible to conduct examinations at this juncture. States like Punjab and Rajasthan have already opposed the UGC guidelines, so should Telangana,” he expressed.
Meanwhile, according to a study by Lancet, a reputed medical journal, among the southern states Telangana is the only state which has been listed as the most vulnerable state, which would be affected by the long-term effects of COVID-19. The other two states which precede Telangana are Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. In the vulnerability scale, Telangana has a score of 0.943. MP has (1) and Bihar has (0.971).
As per the medical bulletin on Thursday, the state has recorded a total of 41,018 cases among which 13,328 of them are active cases. The death toll stands at 396.