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When DU Students Turn Answer Sheets Into Personal Diaries

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Recently, reports of how students from Delhi University’s School of Open Learning had narrated their personal problems in answer sheets surfaced in mainstream media. This was very soon followed by reports that the students enrolled in regular courses have also scribbled their personal rants and even offered bribe to the professors evaluating their answers.

In some instances, students are penning down answers that are completely out of context. In yet other situations, students are taking a well-calculated risk: scribbling proceedings of an upcoming cricket match and/or lyrics of a song sandwiched between terms that were obviously the remnants from their last minute study. Not trying to be sarcastic here, but the students have taken that annoying song that keeps playing in our heads while sitting for an examination, very, very seriously. To the shock of many, answer sheets have been also flooded with meaningless words or intentional undecipherable handwriting, which isn’t a new tactic in the territory of confounding the examiner. What was newly shocking, however, were the words used: profane, cuss words filling pages of an answer sheet.

Answer Sheets Testing Patience of Examiners

Isha Yadav, a professor by profession gave an account on behalf of a colleague and examiner. She tells University Express the quirkiest and most odd offerings the answer sheets have made, “We’ve received money attached, as a bribe to the examiner. A lot of students mention the circumstances at their home, how they couldn’t study for the exam and why must they pass it. Few students have the myth that the examiner is not reading their answer sheets, and they only look at the pages filled, hence, they very quietly slip in the match schedule of India V. Pakistan, their favourite rom-coms and what is happening in the latest episodes and sometimes lyrics of songs. Humming a song or having it stuck in their mind while in an examination is not wrong, but copying it out on the sheet only point out towards negligence and mockery of academics.

Some instances are just a desperate cry for help, whether genuine or not: students furiously scribbling the gory details of their domestic grievances, and trying to get sympathy marks from the examiner, or using the path of emotional blackmail by narrating the situation they might land up in, if they fail.

Clearly, they did not spend the same amount of time actually studying the coursebook as much as they did, picking their brains on ways to be-fool the examiner.

Yadav agrees that this is basically, students begging for marks, “We’ve received answer sheets where students give a wholesome account on the circumstances at their homes, from emotional influence to blackmailing to committing suicide. We’ve seen where students tell us how crucial it is for them to pass with their answer sheets showing no efforts towards it. Writing poems, lyrics or filling the sheets with a film plot point towards a negative trend in education. This is a clear image of gaps in the education system and how students mock the process of examining and are unaware of consequences. This is where we see how our classroom and lectures do not reach the students and they make no efforts for their education. Not giving personal and detailed feedbacks to the ward, is where our university lacks. These students only know they’ve failed and nothing more

Just filling the answer sheets, are they?

A recent graduate from DU, on condition of anonymity, shares, “We are indeed often under the impression that DU professors while checking the answer sheets barely skim through, and that they just look at the length of the answer before allocating it a score. I can see why it would be tempting for the students to write absolute rubbish just for the sake of filling up the sheet, giving the fallacy of a well-fleshed answer.

What has the academic landscape transformed into? Have students shunned all theories of hard work leading to success? Has the system began to manufacture degrees like they are commodities rather than a testimony to someone’s knowledge? Is an educational qualification so important as to drive students to use underhand means to pass, yet not important enough for the students to actually buy the books, make notes and study?

The question amid questions, at the end of the day, remains: is DU churning out professionals ready to take up grave responsibilities, or just insolent tricksters who barely recognize the value of the degree they so shamelessly demand?

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