‘Our mental health affected as risk of infection prevails’
Students in Bengaluru forced to give offline exams even after weeks of resistance on Twitter against the same.
When the third wave of Covid-19 hit Bengaluru in January, many MBBS and engineering students got anxious about the universities holding exams in the physical mode.
K.M. Bhuvan Belliappa, a final-year engineering student from the Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology (NMIT), informed The Observer: “It not only puts us at risk of infection but our mental health also gets affected. Many of my peers have anxiety issues and it was very hard for them to prepare for semester-end examinations when Covid cases were doubling every day. We tried to protest online about it. However, no action was taken.”
Offline exams are being held in NMIT currently. “The reason they give us is that merely online examinations would affect our placements and skill set required for our career, and that is why offline exams are necessary,” Belliappa added.
A few weeks ago, Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) released a circular making it mandatory for the colleges to conduct offline exams.
Anusha Pritam, a professor at Dayanand Sagar College of Engineering, said: “It is not up to the college administration to decide whether or not to hold offline exams. If the university has mandated offline exams, then all the colleges have to follow it. Also, I think the situation is not so bad anymore and college students can handle the pressure of examinations.”
Some VTU colleges have issued a notice saying that even if a student tests positive for Covid-19, he/she will have to appear for physical examinations in a separate room.
Suyog Jain, a third-year engineering student at Dayanand Sagar College of Engineering, said: “VTU is forcing the students into writing the exams offline. The utmost safety measure they have taken for us is assigning a separate room for students who are Covid positive. Students are tormented, but no one is taking any action.”
Students took to Twitter to demand that the exams either be held online or be postponed until the situation is safe for them. They also demanded that online classes be continued.
Puneeth Charan, another student of Dayanand Sagar college, shared: “There is panic in our college because many students had tested positive and are recovering now. It’s a really harsh decision… since we are not prepared for exams, let alone (for) offline exams.”
However, these demands weren’t met. Most colleges started offline exams in the first week of February.
Even MBBS students have demanded postponement of exams.
A tweet read: “Why are we being made to write exams with hardly seven months of academics? We are the future doctors whom you will have to consult. We have had no time to prepare for examinations. Please take action.”
Mahesh Gowda, a consulting psychiatrist at Spandana Nursing home, Bengaluru, explained how this may have severe implications on the mental state of students. “Exams are already stressful, undoubtedly. But considering the situation of our education system right now, it must be really hard on students to prepare for exams. Anxiety because of increasing Covid cases is very common. Many students may have been directly affected by it, or maybe their parents or someone in their families have been infected. How can they be in a mind space to prepare for examinations?”
Farooq Bayabe, vice-president of NSUI, Karnataka, recently met medical education minister K. Sudhakar to share the major concern of MBBS students. However, the government has taken no action.
“Even the current political situation and constant closure of colleges might have affected the students as well. It is a stressful time and mental health is usually the last thing students get to focus on amidst everything,” he said.
In January, chief minister Basvaraj Bommai announced closure of schools and colleges due to an increase in Covid cases. However, engineering colleges affiliated to VTU, and medical and paramedical colleges, were given an exemption.