While many educational institutions in Pune were waiting for orders from the government, on 13th March 2020 evening, Symbiosis International (Deemed University) – SIU took a swift step and declared the closure of all classes at its Pune institutes.
“Symbiosis International (Deemed University) is a health and wellness-promoting university and hence we were proactive in taking immediate steps and announced the closure of classes at all our institutes in Pune.” shared Dr Vidya Yeravdekar, Pro-Chancellor, SIU.
SIU is always proactive in dealing with adversities. One more example for the same is when SIU came up with a travel advisory even before the government sent such advisory to the residents of Maharashtra. Symbiosis International (Deemed University) attracts students from all across the world. The faculty members also travel across the globe for conference and seminars. An advisory was given in the last week of February 2020 were in, all the faculty members who had their travel plans to different conferences across the globe, were asked to cancel/postpone the same.
While the government has issued the closure of educational institutions across Maharashtra, there are institutions which are struggling or contemplating in dealing with term-end examinations. Even in this issue, SIU is way ahead. The pedagogy has been structured in such a way that the students are evaluated throughout the semester.
Examinations are an indispensable part of the educational process as some form of assessment is necessary to determine the effectiveness of teaching-learning processes and their internalization by learners. Various commissions and committees constituted by the government have felt the need for examination reforms.
Several recommendations regarding reducing the emphasis on external examination and encouraging internal assessment through continuous and comprehensive Evaluation have been made in the past. Be it the hunter commission (1882), or the Calcutta University Commission or Sadler Commission (1917-1919) or the Hartog Committee Report (1929), or even the Secondary Education Commission / Mudaliar Commission (1952-53) have always emphasised on continuous evaluation.
“At SIU we follow continuous evaluation at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. This made it easy for us to declare holidays during such COVID-19 emergency scenario and hence we could declare the closure of the University, without the worry of final term-end examinations or CGPA computation,” states Dr Rajani Gupte, Vice-Chancellor, Symbiosis International (Deemed University).
At SIU, a post-graduate programme has sixty per cent internal continuous assessment and it’s a little less for the undergraduate level. The main advantage claimed for continuous assessment is that it provides immediate and repeated feedback to the student about his/her academic progress, and by spreading the period in which students are assessed, continuous assessment reduces the peaks of intense pressure experienced under the traditional examination.
“The students and their parents are already under tremendous pressure with the COVID -19 scenario, and there is no clear time frame of closure that’s currently emerging. Hence we felt it was not right for us to put more pressure on the students with term-end examinations. The continuous evaluation system that we adopted ten years back has immensely helped us to take a call on closing the institution and doing away with the term-end examinations this semester.” states Dr Vidya Yeravdekar, Pro-Chancellor, SIU.
Apart from dealing with the examinations, SIU has permitted work from home option for their faculty members who are using the online resources made available to them via Virtual Private Network. The faculty members are also conducting sessions online using YouTube streaming. Apart from this, the university has its own online platform for running courses online. Online courses were offered by SIBM Pune using this platform, and hence faculty members have the expertise to offer sessions online.
“At SIBM Pune there are students who have opted for an international exchange program. We also have international students who have gone back to their home country. Only a few sessions were left to be completed and our faculty we are using our online platform along with other tech tools to conduct the pending classes and internal assessments.” states Dr Ramakrishnan Raman, Director SIBM Pune and Dean, Faculty of Management, SIU.
All the administrative work keeps moving using their fully automated purchased systems, fully automated finance and HR systems. Automation has been a great boon during these testing times for SIU.