Varsity blind eye to disabled rights- denied extra time in exams
Guwahati, Feb. 19: Gauhati University has denied extra time to a visually-impaired woman in Jorhat town, using a scribe in her post-graduation examinations, despite guidelines issued by the Centre in 2013 for persons with disabilities.
Anima Bora, 44, has already appeared for two papers of her first semester (MA in Assamese) under the Institute of Distance and Open Learning (IDOL) of Gauhati University on February 7 and 14 at CKB College, Jorhat.
However, she was denied the extra time and told that the university had not yet adopted the guidelines of the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment, issued in 2013, that had allowed extra time of 20 minutes for each hour of the examination. Each paper is of three-hour duration.
With three more examinations slated for February 21, February 28 and March 6, Anima is not sure whether she will be able to answer all questions within that limited time.
"I got an additional hour when I did my BA in 1995. This time I was surprised when the college authorities informed me that the extra time is not allowed now. The university will be responsible if I cannot clear my examinations because of the time constraint," Anima, mother of a girl, told The Telegraph today from Jorhat.
Anima, a widow, teaches Assamese and social sciences at Jorhat Blind School.
The examinations under the distance-learning institute are conducted in various colleges across the state but there have been many complaints against the institute.
With her appeal to CKB College making no difference, Anima moved the disability law unit of Sishu Sarothi, an NGO working for differently-abled persons in the region.
The staff of the unit had visited the controller of examinations, Gauhati University, D.J. Choudhury, yesterday but was told that the university was yet to adopt the ministry's guidelines.
"The controller of examinations informed us that he would refer the matter to the university registrar. However, by that time, Anima's next three examinations will be over," Ambalika Senapati, the coordinator of the disability law unit, said in her letter to Gautam Sharma, the assistant director of IDOL, yesterday.
The controller of examinations of Gauhati University, when asked by The Telegraph today, said they were unaware of such guidelines till the Disability Law Unit informed them yesterday.
"We have forwarded the matter to the university's executive council but we can't do anything till it is implemented," Choudhury said.
"We are surprised the way a student with a visual impairment is being denied her rights despite having such guidelines issued in February 2013. How can Gauhati University be so insensitive to the issue despite having a cell for the persons with disabilities? We demand that Anima should be allowed the extra time from her next examination on Sunday. But who will give her the extra time back, which was denied in her last two examinations?" asked Arman Ali, executive director of Sishu Sarothi.
The disability law unit (Northeast), a unit of Shishu Sarothi, fights for the rights of persons with disabilities through legal literacy and litigation, policy change and legal aid, among others.