Thu, 01 Oct, 2020

Editor's Column

Are We Ready For Online Exams?

07-Sep-2020

By Aryama Upadhyaya

We’ve always known about virtual classes but the idea of it actually being applied in Nepal was beyond our imaginations. Had it not been for pandemic, I wonder if we would ever have witnessed the concept of online classes being applied even 50 years from now. 

Universities were recently left in a mess when there was chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic on one hand and career and education of the youth on the other. After many doubtful days, to turn this around, Tribhuvan University has successfully adapted to the circumstances and has asked the institutions to conduct classes via online platforms.

Challenges (In a conversation with a TU student):

The decision of the university has been very challenging. There are many places in Nepal where mobile networks rarely work and there are other places where seamless internet speed and uninterrupted functionality required to hold these online classes seems pretty unlikely.

I had a conversation with a B.Ed in ICT 5th Semester student of Mahendra Ratna Campus-Tahachal, Lokshara Budha. She belongs to the district of Humla where mobile network is hardly available. In fact, only once in a blue moon are they able to reach the network and it lasts less than 3 hours in the morning. She now lives in Simikot (1 day walk from her home) only to attend online classes. She said, “I had just started my 5th Semester when lockdown began; I stayed in Kathmandu for 2 months when the financial problems started hitting, so I decided to return home-Humla.

In the picture: Miss Lokshara Budha at Simikot

“Luckily one morning, when the mobile network was available, a friend of mine called me. She informed me about the college’s notice about conducting online classes from Bhadra 1”, she added. Lokshara had few options: go to the district headquarter which also faced similar problems or not attend the classes. On 5th of Bhadra, she went to Simikot where there’s 4G access and stays with a relative who also attends online classes. “On a good note, the college is conducting classes regularly; I am satisfied with the effort they have put on us”, she said.

Tribhuvan University has been planning to conduct the examinations online.

But is it as easy as they think? The financial instability of Nepal could be the major setback for the educational institutions to follow the methods just like developed countries. There are students who go to the district office once a week to download the study contents due to network absence at home. Lokshara addresses the struggles as a representation of many students in Nepal.   She says, “The price of every item is more than double in Simikot than that of Kathmandu, plus, we have to use mobile data for classes.”

Kathmandu University, for example, conducted their online examinations smoothly. We may also take example of ‘open universities’ where the classes take place online. They gave exams in traditional style before the pandemic so giving online examinations might not be stressful for them. Would it be easy for Tribhuvan University to follow the same? 

Let’s not deal in generalities. Open book examination is an interesting method. However, for the students who would depend on past papers, the new syllabus might be hard to follow. If the same syllabus is followed, there could be questions raised regarding the International validity of the degree.

It’s good that we’re somehow adapting to the new reality. The future ahead is unpredictable. We shall move forward in this way but the concerned authorities should be able to incorporate all these conditions and introduce appropriate management and finally prepare a proper modality for all to follow.

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