80 such students in Mysuru will be appearing for their degree examinations in April
Like his classmates, Divakar, a student of Mahajana First Grade College in Mysuru, is preparing for the crucial final semester examinations scheduled to begin in April. But, as a visually challenged student, he is finding it tough to arrange for a scribe who will have to put on paper all that he has studied.
Scribes are not easy to come by, and the hunt for one is not only sapping his energy, but also adding to the examination stress. “We move heaven and earth to locate a scribe. English-medium students cannot afford to engage a scribe who writes in Kannada. We don’t find suitable candidates even if we are ready to pay for their transportation costs,” said Divakar.
A total of 80 students from different colleges in Mysuru will be appearing for their degree examinations starting from April 10 this year.
Unlike other students, visually challenged students begin their preparations in advance. They collect notes of different subjects dictated in class and arrange a volunteer who will read them out aloud over a period of several hours and record them. They prepare for the examination by listening to the recordings.
Then there’s the hunt for the elusive scribe. “Scribes are just not available,” says Bhargavi Hemmige, Assistant Professor at Mahajana’s First Grade College. “Any individual, including a housewife, professional or student, who has has finished their SSLC can come forward to offer their services as a scribe,” she said.
Even if students manage to find a suitable scribe, they may not be available to write all their examinations.
Change in scribes
Darshan, another visually challenged student, had to go through a depressing experience when he had to change a scribe for an examination in the second semester.
The scribe, who wrote Darshan’s first examination in one subject, could not attend the examination of the second subject. When a different scribe was engaged with great difficulty, the authorities simply refused to permit the scribe to write the paper, said Darshan, who was unable to clear one subject because of the lack of awareness on the part of the authorities.
The reason cited by the authorities was that the scribe was different from the one who wrote the previous examination, and was better qualified with a degree in commerce. By the time Darshan could convince the authorities that there were no such restrictions as per the revised guidelines issued by government of India’s Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Department of Disability Affairs in 2013, it was too late.
The guidelines for conducting written examinations for persons with disabilities state that “there should also be flexibility in accommodating any change in scribe/reader/lab assistant in case of an emergency”.
There is no need for the same scribe to write all the examinations of a visually challenged student.
But most universities and colleges across the State, which have not updated themselves with the 2013 guidelines, continue to follow the 2004 guidelines with regard to written examinations for the differently-abled, said Dr. Hemmige.
Family or friends
Bangalore University asks its students to choose scribes from their circle of family or friends to avoid undue stress, said C. Shivaraju, Registrar of Evaluation of the varsity. “Normally, when people pick scribes who are not known to them, there is no accountability. We have been asking all our students who take scribes to be proactive and have at least two people lined up to help them write the examination,” he said.
Schoolchildren, however, are relieved of the stress of finding scribes. Visually challenged students from Class I to IX write their examinations in Braille while the school authorities arrange scribes for students appearing for SSLC examinations.