The coronavirus pandemic has put a massive challenge to not just doctors and health workers but across several sectors including education and higher studies. Considering the lockdown guidelines and social distancing norms during the pandemic, several state-level board exams, recruitment exams, university-level exams, and entrance exams have been postponed across the country.
Several educational institutions and colleges are trying to figure out the way forward be it conducting exams or assessing students and their performance. Students across colleges and universities have raised concerns on their pending papers considering logistic issues during the lockdown. Students of the National Institute of Fashion and Technology (NIFT) have also complained about the challenges they are facing in submitting their projects and assignment.
Some students shared their concerns and pressure they were feeling concerning their assignments and projects. “Our course is devised in a manner that practical aspect and assignment form the core unlike a traditional course,” says Priya (name changed) a student at NIFT Kangra. "We apprised the college about the difficulties but after the students raised their concerns yesterday by emailing all directors of NIFTs, one of our faculties told a student that we must avoid getting into all this since there is a possibility of disciplinary actions,” Priya told IndiaTvNews.com.
"What we should we do then? Just sit back and try to relax," she added while expressing concern about the assessment deadline.
The situation is no different in NIFT Kolkata. Kolkata and the nearby region is still reeling the cyclone Amphan and coronavirus crisis. Several students who come from the affected area complained about how they were unable to take online classes due to poor internet connectivity. "I come from a small village in West Bengal. Due to Amphan, we don't have any electricity for the last 10 days. Not everybody can access Wifi right now, yet the teachers are still conducting online classes and demanding assignments. Our course demands practical implementations, how we are going to learn anything from zoom classes? We don't have access to basic stationery right now, how we can we submit prototypes?", said Dev*, a first-year student of NIFT Kolkata.
Several students whom IndiaTvNews.com spoke to, urged the college authorities to cancel examinations or allow some relaxations in exam-related assessments. Students were also worried about the future and job placements.
"I am a final year student who was about to get a degree and get a job, but due to these circumstances, all the dreams uncertain now. Our placements got cancelled too and we all are going through mental trauma right now,” said a student from NIFT Kangra. Needless to say, several companies have cancelled their hiring plans amid the pandemic.
Another student, Rachna (name changed) from NIFT Hyderabad said, "On 24th April we had a zoom call with our faculty members and they told us if the situation gets better your final exams will take place around May 15 in college. That didn't happen. A few days later we were told that we were supposed to work on final documentation. We have been asked to come to college and submit hard copies. There’s a lot of confusion and uncertainty.”
When Indiatvnews.com approached T Srivani, who is also the centre coordinator of NIFT Hyderabad, she said: "I care about my students. I don't know what the students are saying we are working hard to provide the best facilities. We are having meetings regularly." However, when IndiaTVNews.com spoke to students, they had a different version.
"I have just one word to explain what is happening--uncertainty," said a NIFT Hyderabad student.
When asked about placements and exam relaxation, NIFT Hyderabad coordinator said: "Placements are fine. I just opened my phone and there are emails from companies lined up for students. We can't cancel exams because we have to evaluate the students. They are fine and comfortable and they are missing their campus. I am regularly sending company updates and internships for the students. We also made travel arrangements for the students so they can reach home safely. I don't know who said you what, but the students are happy and there is no pressure from us."
Mahek (name changed), a final-year student of NIFT Kolkata said: "We had 5-6 weeks of internship left when the lockdown was announced. The last weeks of internship are crucial since its time to manufacture our product. Now, most of us were not able to get our designs manufactured into products. The college told us to submit digital designs and when the college will reopen they will give us 1-month to complete everything. In this scenario, we will have to use our funds. To produce a leather bag it will cost me 10-15,000 including the raw material and we have to submit one collection consisting of 5-7 bags. It's not feasible after spending lakhs on this course. Parents of so many students have lost their jobs. Who will incur the travel charges, accommodation, and also we have to quarantine ourselves too? Who will take responsibility if I get coronavirus positive during this period?"
"So many universities have decided for final students, why can't NIFT decide?" said Mahek. Delhi University has decided to promote students based on internal assessment.
Students said that most of them have gone home without taking any study material with them and due to this they are not able to prepare for the examinations. Students now are also concerned about the rising number of COVID-19 cases and their respective colleges’ decision to conduct exams.
Indiatvnews.com tried to contact the directors of NIFT Delhi, NIFT Chennai, NIFT Bhubaneswar, NIFT Kangra, and NIFT Kolkata but didn't receive any response so far. We will update the copy as and when we receive a response.
*Students name changed on request