No Alternative to In-person Exams: Pushpa Raj Joshi, Exam Controller of Tribhuvan University

July 20, 2021
Last updated July 21, 2021
No Alternative to In-person Exams: Pushpa Raj Joshi, Exam Controller of Tribhuvan University

Examinations at all levels have been hindered because of the nationwide lockdown enforced due to the COVID-19 outbreak and again due the threats posed by the resurgence of the second wave. To restore the academic calendar, Tribhuvan University has decided to resume all suspended examinations. While other universities have conducted the examinations online, the country's oldest university is geared up to conduct the examinations in the physical presence of students across Nepal in their accessible examination centers.

Edusanjal had a brief conversation with Mr. Pushpa Raj Joshi, the Examination Controller of Tribhuvan University, in the 100th special edition of EduTalk, to discuss some of the most pressing concerns surrounding the Bachelor level examinations.

Mr. Joshi expects that more than 2 hundred 70 thousands students will participate in  the forthcoming bachelor's level examinations, in which 30 to 35 thousands will sit for for bachelor's second year examination and more than 2 hundred thousands will sit for bachelor's first year examinations.

The first year examination has been postponed twice since the lockdown was first implemented, resulting in a 19-month  long period without examination.

When asked why the University did not use alternate evaluation modules, the examination controller stated that the University had attempted to continue the examination through an online module at first, but it could not materialize to its completion. He went on to say that despite all the efforts, incorporating a large number of yearly system students into an alternative model of evaluation is tough.

Two-thirds of students enrolled in the annual system do not participate in online classes, let alone assessments and evaluations. If the University had gone forward intending to hold online tests, the scenario would have been such that many students would have been left out. Adding on he lamented that not all students have a proper internet connection and electronic device so are unable to participate in online tests. Some students even reported to have no access to cell networks at all.

In light of these unfortunate circumstances, the University had no choice but to proceed with the plan to hold the examinations in person. He claimed that the University has accepted insufficiently filed forms, some without photos, to ensure that students are not left out of the tests.

He went on to explain that all safety measures to prevent the virus from spreading will be closely implemented. There is a far lower probability of the examination centers becoming overcrowded this way, he claims.

Similarly, Tribhuvan University has been under scrutiny for failing to set up online methods of examinaion, while other universities have done so efficiently. The University was even reprimanded for risking the health of its students.  In response to the reaction, the controller of examinations claimed that Tribhuvan University serves over 80% of students that are enrolled in Nepal's higher educational institutions and thus responsible for more than hundred thousands of students, whilst other universities are merely concerned with a few hundred.

Currently, the University is looking at several software portals to see how they might implement online instructional modalities. They are attempting to reorganize the educational schedule for the students and to find better ways to offer additional yearly courses. However, for the time being, there is no choice but to conduct the exams in person because the University as well as the students cannot afford yet another postponement. This will further destabilize the University's already jumbled academic calendar.

Mr. Joshi also argued that the current difficult situation in which everyone finds themselves in is the result of natural circumstances, not the University. The University has done its utmost to work its way through the problem and is always working to improve and manage the next round of exams.

Finally, the Examination Controller assured that the examinations will be conducted adhering to all the safety protocols. He also urges the participants to maintain a safe environment, use masks and take all the necessary precautions.