By Nayak Paudel Kathmandu, Aug. 6: Issuing a notice on August 3, Tribhuvan University informed that its decision to conduct the annual examinations within a month was retracted until further notice. The notice came as the cases of COVID-19 started increasing across the country. Tribhuvan University, which had issued a notice earlier to conduct the examinations after the cases had started decreasing and the government lifted the lockdown, was bound to withdraw the decision as the COVID-19 risk increased further. While the universities are on the verge of deciding the possibility of conducting examinations, experts have suggested working on a framework for conducting the examinations in optional ways rather than writing answers sitting in examination halls. “It is difficult to conduct examinations like in the earlier times. While the universities cannot wait for the pandemic to end as waiting could cause serious effects in the academic calendar, they should focus on conducting examinations in optional ways” Kedar Bhakta Mathema, former Vice-Chancellor at Tribhuvan University, told The Rising Nepal. The students studying in different campuses travelled back to their homes in far corners after the lockdown was imposed and their return to the cities to take the examinations using public vehicles could increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Officials at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology informed that they had recommended the universities to conduct the examinations only after following health and safety guidelines and ensuring safety of students’ health. “The universities are autonomous bodies and conduct their examinations themselves. They are free to take any form of examinations but should be able to guarantee the students’ safety as the risk of COVID-19 transmission is still high,” said Deepak Sharma, spokesperson at the ministry. Likewise, officials at the University Grants Commission (UGC), an autonomous and statuary institution formed to enhance the quality of higher education in the country, also recommended the universities to search alternative ways to conduct the examinations. “Universities are free to conduct the examinations using optional methods like giving assignments, evaluating marks on the basis of previous examinations and their attendance records, internal evaluation or conducting oral interviews. There are other ways to conduct the examinations as well,” said Dev Raj Adhikari, member secretary at the UGC. Adhikari urged the universities to find a suitable optional way to conduct the examinations at the earliest as delay and uncertainties would only further affect the academic progress of numerous students. “Why not to follow the optional ways of examinations when no other choices are left as risking students’ health could not be a good choice?” questioned Adhikari. The COVID-19 pandemic affected the education sector across the globe but various countries came up with necessary measures in minimising the loss. Experts suggested that the concerned authorities conduct necessary research over the requirements of adding or changing infrastructures and policies in strengthening education sector and improving its quality. “Internal evaluation has been adopted for publishing results, but there is a big question over the credibility of internal evaluation forwarded by respective educational institutes to the universities,” said Mathema. “Authorities can direct institutes to keep proper record and provide it alongside internal evaluation as it would be credible and fair.” Meanwhile, universities in their notices regarding postponement of the examinations have directed the students to remain ready for the examinations. It is still uncertain how the examinations would be conducted, but the university officials have been conducting necessary discussions over the issue regularly to come up with a suitable solution.