National Education Policy must incorporate a framework to respond to COVID-19 like contingencies in future : ABVP

A 26-point memorandum of suggestions in respect of the education sector reforms presented to the Prime Minister.
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ABVP presented a 26-point memorandum of suggestions in respect of education sector reforms to the Hon’ble Prime Minister and requested him to incorporate a framework in the National Education Policy for methodical response to COVID-19 like contingencies in future.

The memorandum presented to the Hon’ble Prime Minister highlighted the adverse impacts of the pandemic on the country’s education sector and also apprised him of its present state of affairs. It must be mentioned that ABVP, by way of its digital contact program, initiated on 11-12 May 2020, reached out to 8,68,618 students across the country and solicited their views on the emerging challenges in the education sphere along with suggestions and solutions regarding the same. Many of such recommendations were included in the memorandum presented to the Hon’ble Prime Minister.

Some of the suggestions advanced through the memorandum were adoption of various modes for conducting examinations, formulation of inter-university transfer guidelines during similar pandemics in future, age and attempt-related relaxations for aspirants preparing for competitive examinations, insurance policy for students, promoting distance learning, establishing more academic and career-related counseling centres for students, digitization of education and upgrading of digital infrastructure in educational institutes, providing diverse, interactive and platform independent e-learning resources, arranging for courier of study materials to areas having low internet penetration, directions for effective physical-distancing measures in educational institutes, ensuring that offline examinations are scheduled only after the resumption of seamless transport facilities, providing placement and internship opportunities to pandemic-stricken students as well as ensuring timely disbursal of scholarship amount and relaxations in thesis submission deadlines for research and doctoral students.

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Calling for universities to release new academic calendars, holding practical examinations only after the theoretical examinations, allowing for online submissions of research and doctoral thesis, encouraging students to undertake welfare activities for the underprivileged, novel skill development programmes for the youth, lending support to the start-up ecosystem, addressing fees related grievances of students, foregoing the demand for fees altogether for students belonging to economically weaker sections of the society, giving concessions in respect of hostel and mess fees, periodic sanitization of hostels, increasing the scholarship and doctoral fellowship amount in the upcoming academic year, increasing the fellowship amount for accredited M.Phil and PhD students, laying out a blueprint for organizing cultural and sports-related activities in future along with all the preventive measures, increasing the number of seats in medical education, regulating the fees of private medical colleges, introducing appropriate changes in the agricultural universities in light of the emerging challenges in the selfsame sector, and instituting necessary reforms in medical and technical education were some of the additional suggestions enumerated in the memorandum.

Nidhi Tripathi, National General Secretary, ABVP, said, “The pandemic has caused widespread anxieties among India’s large student community. We want to provide solutions and work with the government to ameliorate the extensive grievances of students and address the emerging complexities in the country’s education sector. Our memorandum of suggestions covers nearly all fields in the education sphere, ranging from medical, agricultural and science to commerce and technical education. We are hopeful that the Hon’ble Prime Minister will consider our recommendations and take effective steps to address the issues affecting the country’s education sector.”