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Chaos erupts at NEHU over CUET hullabaloo

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By Our Reporter

SHILLONG, May 15: Chaos erupted at the campus of North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong, on the first day of the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) UG 2024, on Wednesday, with scores of students running amok in a bid to appear for their test.
Not only did the commotion expose the mismanagement on the part of the examination centre, which is NEHU, but it also caused one of the students to faint due to the rush at the Social Science cluster building of the institute. The student had to be rushed for medical attention.
It may be mentioned that NEHU has set up three examination centres — Social Science cluster, Science cluster and Kendriya Vidyala School, NEHU.
The conundrum
Hundreds of students appearing for the English test had gathered at Social Science cluster building.
Confusion prevailed since the roll numbers along with the allotted rooms were not displayed. The admit cards issued by the National Testing Agency (NTA), however, only mentioned ‘cluster classrooms’, which led to the entire confusion.
It was clear that NEHU was unable not manage the situation as there were nearly 3,700 students who appeared for the English test under CUET UG.
The English test, which was supposed to be held at 3 pm, was delayed by more than two hours because the biometric system was not working.
NEHU had to get the clearance from the NTA authority in New Delhi to allow students to appear English paper examination without biometric system.
Finally, the university received the clearance to hold the examination without mandatory biometric registration. Students finally entered the examination room at 5.15 pm.
The General Studies test, which was also delayed, got over at 9.30 pm.
It was also learnt that no refreshment or even water was provided to the invigilators, most of whom were research scholars performing invigilation duties beginning 10 am until 9.30 pm.
Who is to blame?
Inside sources blame the lack of manpower in overseeing the conduct of an elaborate examination as such as the CUET for the chaos.
At least three examiners should have been present in each examination hall but NEHU could assign one examiner for each hall.
The responsibility of holding the CUET UG 2024 was assigned to the NEHU Registrar, (retired) Colonel Omkar Singh.
The NEHU Registrar had assigned the job of ‘Nodal Officer’ to newly appointed faculty, Santosh Kumar, directing him to coordinate the conduct of the examination. However, was not familiar with conducting examination of the magnitude of CUET.
The senior faculty members who possessed the expertise of conducting such examinations were reportedly ignored.
This lack of expertise was clearly witnessed considering they faltered in preparing the list of the roll numbers for allotment of the rooms.
Moreover, no one was assigned the job of arranging the queue for students. A very few private security personnel were present to manage the crowd.
In another debacle, the university did not seek the support of the traffic police to manage the vehicular movement as well as parking inside the university campus.
Speaking to reporters, NEHU registrar Omkar Singh attributed the delay to the non-functioning or mal-functioning biometric system. “We had to approach the NTA to conduct the examination without biometric system,” he said.
Singh maintained that it is not a case of slackness or lack of preparedness on the part of NEHU.
“You will need to realise the levels involved in the examination. We are solely organising the examination and the questions came from the NTA. All the clearance has to come from the NTA,” he added.
The NEHU Registrar however admitted that the crowd management could have been handled better.
Informing that that they had asked the NTA to grant three centres to NEHU, Singh said that they were given only one centre. But the university arranged three centres at its campus.
“But unfortunately all the students landed up at the Social Science cluster. Finally, we guided them to Science cluster and KV School NEHU,” he said.
Meanwhile, one of the faculties, who was involved in overseeing the entrance examination, said that they are required to pick up the question papers at 6 am from Canara Bank.
“We did not have time as they had to open and properly arrange the questions papers. It was really difficult since everything was done in the last minute,” the faculty, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
Anguish
The parents of the students, on the other hand, were filled with anguish.
“We were in the dark as no one was there to guide us. Our children were all wet as due to the drain. This lackadaisical attitude of the university is not acceptable,” rued one of the parents.
Another concerned parent said, “They got a peculiar kind of dress code. They were not allowed to wear shoes, only chappals, or jackets allowed. The kids were fully drenched in the rain and the white socks were painted red with mud, they were shivering and they have gone to request for permission to wear a jacket, but the request was denied… they reached home at 9:35 pm, very exhausted and frustrated. They did well but the ordeal they had to undergo was letting them down.”
“CUET exam is cruel,” the parent remarked.
Attesting to the mismanagement at NEHU, one of the students, who sat for the exam during the day, said “If CUET is an exam that decides the future of thousands of students in a more responsible way? There was no effort made to appoint efficient centre in-charge and a team for conducting such an important exam. There was no helpdesk to guide students to their respective classrooms, no list of roll numbers pasted outside the halls. Students were herded like cattle in the rain. Do students deserve this harassment?”

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