ALIGARH: Aftab Alam, a professor at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has been served a warning after he expressed his reservations over holding online open book examinations in the university citing last mile connectivity issues that can rob many students of equal opportunity.
In a letter to the political science department professor, AMU Registrar Abdul Hamid said that Alam's email had the potential to 'instigate' the students to boycott the final year examination at a time when the National Disaster Management Act is in operation due to Covid-19 pandemic and this may lead to problems in the conduct of university examinations and other academic activities.
The registrar also stated that the professor has indirectly threatened the university administration that if they go ahead with online open book examination, some students may commit suicide. He has cited the example of a young female student who committed suicide in Kerala due to alleged problems of internet connectivity.
The registrar gave a stern warning to Alam saying, "If any problems occurs in future, you will be held responsible for the same."
Alam, who is also a member of an Executive Council, in his letter to the VC, had said that "the online open book examination process requires students to have Internet access, computers/laptops or the latest smartphones, books and quality study material wherever they are currently locked down.
"We have failed to recognise the fact that most of our students left for their homes in an extraordinary situation and they might not have even their books and their study materials with them."
He said that there are also numerous students who are handicapped simply because they do not have the latest smartphones and laptops and access to stable 4G Internet connection. The students may face immense difficulties of varying degrees in scanning and uploading their answers on plain sheets depending upon the quality of smartphone and Internet connectivity and load on our server.
The possibility of the server being down and Internet speed too slow in the last minute cannot be ruled out which may deprive many students of timely uploading their answers, he stated.
The professor urged the administration to rescind their decision of online open-book examination and appoint a Working Group of experts to examine various alternatives as online open book examinations are not a feasible solution at all.