Loud sneezes, incessant coughing sounds, variety of nasal sounds. No, this isn’t a hospital ward.
These are noises generated by students of the Medical College of Baroda and Gotri – or the Baroda Medical College – who are forced to appear for their prelims. And these sounds are heard in an examination hall.
Some of these students have Covid, some are on the verge of the deadly infection and some have a bad cough that may or may not be Covid – but coughing is unavoidable.
All this coughing of course doesn’t mean anything to the Baroda Medical College, which is adamant on holding offline exams with compulsory attendance for everyone – including Covid positive students – for Prelims of Final Year students conducted offline.
After conducting the first paper on Wednesday wherein the Covid positive students were seated in one class and Covid negative students in another class, the college deemed fit to carry on with the second paper on Thursday.
The college did not drift from the schedule that came out in mid-October 2021. The situation has worsened since the schedule was posted by the college putting students’ and their employees lives at stake.
The students are not only petrified for their safety but have to go through the pressure of exams alongside. “If all the students get tested for Covid-19 then for sure more than 20 of them will test positive but due to exams students are not even getting tested. So many coughing and having a bad cold and headaches,” said a Final Year student of Medical College, Baroda.
The picture of the students sitting in the exam hall shows students writing their exam. It can easily be spotted that at least one of them is not even wearing a mask while appearing for the exam.
The students are forced to keep their bags on the floor next to each other’s bags. This can lead to the further spreading of the virus. According to the official schedule, there are two exams still to be conducted. These two exams are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.
When contacted, Principal Secretary (Education) SJ Haider only said that the adviser to the State Education Department Prof AU Patel would take the call. Haider could not say if the government was considering putting off the exams or holding them online.
When contacted, Patel said this virus was of low intensity and would subside soon. He had of course no basis of saying this except that Omicron would not sustain long, little realizing, perhaps that the surge of cases in Gujarat is largely of the original Delta variant.
He claimed that almost 70 – 80 per cent of students had in the past asked for offline exams as chances and modes of cheating/copying increased. The result is 100 per cent in online exams, ultimately the value of education declines. “Last time many students did not appear for online exams as the students wanted to appear for offline exams,” Patel said.
“The State Government has no problem if all students agree to online exams,” Patel claims, speaking on behalf of the Gujarat Government.