6 JUNE 2020

Online Learning Latest Legal Developments

BY NANDINI NARAYANASWAMY

As the world is passing through unprecedented times with the COVID-19 pandemic, educational institutions and universities are facing multiple challenges. Schools, colleges and universities world over have had to close and examination schedules were disrupted.


UGC Guidelines on Examinations in view of COVID-19


UGC set up an expert committee to recommend guidelines for modes of teaching-learning process, academic calendar for the session 2019-20, 2020-21, modes of conducting examinations and functioning of laboratories.These are some of the significant guidelines provided by the expert committee for conducting examinations:

  • Include MCQ/ OMR based examinations, Open Book Examination, Open Choices, assignment/ presentation-based assessments etc
  • Reduce the time from 3 hours to 2 hours assigned to each examination
  • Conduct Terminal / Intermediate Semester / Year examinations in offline / online mode, while observing the guidelines of “social distancing”
  • If social distancing is not possible, grading of the students could be composite of 50% marks on the basis of the pattern of internal evaluation adopted by the universities and the remaining 50% marks can be awarded on the basis of performance in previous semester.
  • For first year students, 100% evaluation may be done on the basis of internal evaluation
  • The scheme of “Carry forward” will be allowed for the current academic year in the universities
  • Universities may consider assigning review-based/ secondary data-based projects or software-driven projects, instead of laboratory-based experiments or field/ survey-based assignments to these students
  • Conduct practical examinations and Viva-Voce examinations through Skype or other meeting apps, and in case of intermediate semesters, the practical examinations may be conducted during the ensuing semesters
  • Universities may conduct the Ph.D. and M. Phil. Viva -Voce examinations through Video Conferencing using Google, Skype, Microsoft Technologies or any other reliable and mutually convenient technology
  • M.Phil. or Ph.D. students, whose maximum period for submission of M. Phil./ Ph.D. Dissertation/ Thesis is expired/ expiring during the Corona pandemic period, may be allowed to submit their Dissertation/ Thesis, including completion of pending formalities, within six months from the date of expiry of regular prescribed period.

The committee has also suggested the academic calendar for 2019-2020 and has provided general guidelines for universities to follow.


Online Degree Courses


UGC is finalizing a proposal to offer online degree courses to universities which fulfills one of the two criteria – Naac 3.01 and above CGPA (Grade A) or universities with top 100 NIRF rankings. The HRD ministry is likely to announce the new norms once the UGC finalizes the criteria.


Karnataka High Court on Online Classes


Writ petitions were filed before the High Court of Karnataka by parents of students studying in classes 1 to 5 challenging the ban imposed on conducting online classes for children from LKG to class 5 by schools across all boards in the state and restraining the schools from collecting fees for the same. The Karnataka High Court has asked the state government to immediately consider allowing conduct of online classes for primary school students. A committee of experts submits its report on the issue of online education rom Grade 6 and above. There is however no stay of the Education Department circular dated June 15, 2020. The matter is now adjourned for hearing on June 29, 2020, and hopes are running high.


CBSE Board Exams


The Supreme Court has accepted the notification issued by the CBSE confirming that Class X and Class XII Board exams would stand cancelled in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

The notification provides that Class X students will be evaluated on the basis of a CBSE- formulated Assessment Scheme. However, Class XII students have an option to write the exams when the situation is conducive. This option is given in addition to the assessment scheme.

Some of the important areas of the marks averaging mechanism would be:

(a) For the students of both classes X and XII, who have completed all their examinations, their results will be declared based on their performance in the examinations.

(b) For students who have appeared in the examinations in more than 3 subjects, the average of the marks obtained in best three performing subjects will be awarded in the subjects whose examinations have not been conducted.

(c) For students who have appeared in the examinations in only 3 subjects, the average of the marks obtained in the best two performing subjects will be awarded in the subjects whose examinations have not been conducted.

(d) For student who have appeared in only 1 or 2 subjects. The results will be declared based on the performance in the appeared subjects and performance in internal/practical/project assessment.


Allahabad High Court


A PIL has been filed before the Allahabad High Court seeking a direction to all private schools in the state to charge only tuition fee and detest from charging various other fee such as extra-curricular fee, library fee, computer fee etc. The PIL is pending with no stay orders yet.

A similar PIL to waive of school fee for differently abled children who are unable to attend online classes due to their disability is pending before the Lucknow High Court.

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