Mumbai: ‘Digital India’ …..This catch phrase is proving to be a rather difficult pill to swallow for Mumbai University at least. Although the University’s foresight to foray into digital/online assessment is to be lauded, its efforts in that direction have found to be seriously lacking, given the enormous and daunting task of assessing 22 lakh answer sheets of 406 semester examinations.
Tenders for agencies to conduct online assessments were floated as late as February 2017 and the final round of tenders was concluded only in April 2017. Merit Trac, the agency so chosen began work only in May 2017. Setting up of infrastructure viz. scanning machines, biometrics and operating personnel etc. took time. This also in turn delayed the process of conducting teacher orientation workshops. College Principals too were not well informed of the process so as to be given the proper instructions to the teachers.
The new technology is called On-Screen Marking (OSM) and involves scanning and uploading of answer sheets with the answer key side by side for easy online assessment. This would not only make assessment work faster but would check the dubious process of tampering with answer sheets and leave no scope for manipulation. An interesting fact not highlighted was that this new technology has been used by the Engineering Dept since many years without a problem.
The July 31st deadline to declare results has passed, the next deadline August 5th has also come and gone but yet 2.44 lakh papers are still to be assessed. However as a matter of consolation results of a few smaller examinations were announced on August 5th.
The Vice Chancellor Sanjay Deshmukh has faced a lot of flak from political parties who are now clamoring for his resignation. The Opposition is also targeting Education Minister Vinod Tawde and Minister of State for Higher and Technical Education Ravindra Waikar in this matter.
The delay in declaring results have left many students in the lurch as they are not able to gain admission into foreign Universities, study further or take up jobs without a mark sheet in hand. Many students would be forced to take a drop of a year and apply next year to the course of their choice if the situation worsens.
Moreover this also brings into question the quality of the assessment which amidst the chaos and pressure is the one factor that definitely seems compromised.