As many as 41% of Delhi University (DU) students have not been able to attend online classes at all amid the nationwide lock down, found a survey by a students’ group.

The survey conducted by the DU unit of All India Students’ Association (AISA) also found that the major reason behind students not being able to attend classes online regularly was “poor internet connectivity”. The survey recovered was conducted over the last two weeks and covered more than 1,500 students.

The University had started online classes in the last week of March, soon after the lockdown was imposed on March 25 to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease.

“Only 22.4 % of students are attending online classes regularly. While 41.2% of students said they are not being able to attend classes at all, the remaining 42.4 % said that they have managed to attend a few classes,” stated the survey report released on Tuesday.

“As many as 72.2 % of students said poor internet connectivity is the main reason behind them not being able to attend classes online classes regularly,11.6% of students cited financial incapability as the reason, and 7.6% said that household chores are not letting them attend online classes. The remaining 8.3% cited other reasons,” the report stated.

While the DU administration is thinking about conducting online exams for its final year students, around 74 percent of the surveyed students responded against the idea. “Around 32.4% of students said that they don’t even have devices such as smartphones or laptops to appear in the online exams,” said the survey report.

Abhigyan (single name), member AISA (DU unit) and a student at Ramjas College, said the student’s organisation was approached by many DU students who were finding it difficult to attend online classes. “The students were also worried about the University administration’s idea of conducting online exams. So we thought we should conduct a survey to get a clear picture of students’ opinions on online exams and classes and send it to the university administration,” he said.

Several students across the University are finding it difficult to attend online classes. Sandeep Kumar, a third-year student at Hindu College, said he had left for his village in Uttarakhand before the lockdown was announced and now faces connectivity issues while attending online classes. “Some of my friends who are in northeastern states have not been able to attend any classes at all until now because of poor internet connectivity. In such a situation, one cannot even think about taking online exams,” Kunar said.

The University administration had recently invited suggestions from various stakeholders on how exams should be conducted in the prevailing situation.

Rajesh Jha, member of University’s executive council, said the council has written to the DU administration several times against conducting online exams. “When we take an online class, usually 20 out of 45 students attend at a time. Many students call and text us explaining difficulties in attending online classes because of various reasons,” he said.

A member of University’s special task force constituted to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, requesting anonymity, said, “We are closely monitoring the situation and also accessing the number of students who are equipped with technology. Any decision on exams will be taken keeping in mind the interest of students.”

The University is also considering launching voice conferencing to help the students who do not have smartphones or other devices. “We are planning to start classes via audio conferencing which needs no internet or smart devices” the member added.

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