KARACHI: Perturbed over the “poorly conducted online classes” over the past two months, a large number of Karachi University (KU) students on Tuesday protested the administration’s decision to hold in-person semester exams next week, forcing the vice chancellor to call a deans’ meeting on Wednesday on the subject.
According to sources, the issue will also be taken up by the Karachi University Teachers’ Society (Kuts) in its general body session being held on Wednesday.
The students, who had gathered in the administrative block, were demanding “justice” and a “fair right to education” and complained against “poor quality online teaching”.
The university, they said, had no justification to hold semester exams when they were hardly taught anything.
VC, teachers call meetings to discuss the issue
The online classes, some of the students pointed out, constituted some recorded lectures and theoretical assignments and their performance should only be gauged on the basis of that work.
There were some students who were asking for online exams as was announced by the university administration last month.
The demonstration continued for over an hour and drew attention of university officials, including the vice chancellor, who held talks with a group of students and tried to allay their concerns.
It may be recalled that the university’s plan to hold online classes announced against the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic has seen strong criticism from teachers since it got ‘approval’ in a controversial online meeting of the academic council in June.
“How serious the administration is in quality teaching can be gauged from the fact that no meeting of the academic council has been held since then while the alternative teaching plan developed by us through consensus was given no consideration,” said a senior KU teacher.
He agreed with students’ reservations that online teaching was mainly comprised of some recorded lectures that he described as “offline teaching” and theoretical assignments that students had to do on their own.
“They hardly got an opportunity to interact with teachers and this happened due to multiple reasons, including poor internet connection and frequent power outages,” he explained.
Speaking to Dawn, student adviser Dr Salman Zubair said protesting students were confused and divided on their demands.
“The university had already held in-person classes for two months when the lockdown began. The online classes were meant to conduct teaching for the 50 per cent remaining courses,” he said, adding that a KU semester was of four months.
According to him, science students are now being helped as per their lab requirements.
Meanwhile, several departments have started holding in-person classes reportedly without following any standard operating procedures set by the government, including adequate provision of sanitisers for students and teachers.
Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2020