Need For Shifting From Physical To Online Examination

It was a beautiful, sunny day of spring. Sportsweek 2020 entered its final day at the beautiful university (ABC) located on the footsteps of famous Margalla hills. The young scholars were celebrating their victories till late on Feb eve. There was awareness about the global pandemic situation on social media but nobody had thought that viral “social media disease ” will change their lives and routines for many coming years. The country went into panic mode within days. There was hell presented on TV screens; the newscasters and anchors were shouting, politicians were caught unprepared for unconventional crises (they are often caught unprepared regardless if it is conventional or otherwise).

The young generation of the 21st century has gone through some extraordinary circumstances. Everything was going well but suddenly in the month of March, 2020, all changed suddenly. A viral disease “COVID-19” originated from China in January and spread throughout the globe within just 1 month. The global community of 7 billion people was stunned and left in chaos by rapid destruction caused by COVID.

All the educational institutions were immediately closed and classes were shifted over different online platforms. Students took several months to get used to these new routines. But somehow teachers and students managed and the new COVID-Educational system formed in Pakistan. There were problems with connectivity, gadgets, timings, educational environment, assignments, concepts etc.,but the students couped all these conditions and gave first online exams. There was a decrease in COVID death rates in September, students were asked to join classes on campus but just after one and a half months, the institutions were closed again. Students attended their final 8 week classes online and the government dropped a bombshell on 15th January.

Government announces reopening of the classes for grade 8 to grade 12 on 18th January and for higher educational institutions, from1st of February.

Students from all over Pakistan have been furious over this decision and they have organised physical and online protests on campus exams. They have different arguments in favour of online exams.

The trend against on-campus exams has gone global on twitter.

Students argue that, “if you teach us by online method, how can you judge students by physical exams?, the future of thousands of students has been put on stakes."

The honourable education minister, himself attended the meeting by online means but asked students to go to universities.

A protesting student Hafsa says, “virtual learning is not suitable for physical exams”, students have not been prepared for physical exams by online teaching methods so this is utterly unfair.

The police have used force against protesting students of NUML who were exercising their democratic right to protest but some of them were arrested and taken to prison.

This behaviour of the government is totally unacceptable against peaceful protestors who were raising voices for their educational rights. The catastrophe is that this is the very same government that came to power by street agitation, protests, Dharnas and container politics and they are now putting barriers on freedom of protest and freedom of speech which is allowed in the Constitution of Pakistan. Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan states:

“Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, [commission of] or incitement to an offence.”

On a lighter note, one more famous argument which has been circulating in social media circles is “if after attending online classes, we have to attend physical exams, then why not give commission to all the PUBG players in the armed forces.

The government argues that students have to live with these new changing circumstances and they should have been prepared for any possibilities. The government should communicate with students and try to listen to them at least, addressing the concerns is another matter.

The minister wrote on twitter on 19th of January: “The future is our main priority." But the honourable minister needs to understand, by taking online exams, you are saving nothing, not the future, not the students (the rise in COVID wave) not even your vote bank. PTI is considered the party of youth and if you don’t listen to youth, you are going nowhere in General Elections 2023.

The point to be understood for the government is, students are not against on-campus exams, “students are only against online classes and on-campus exams”.