Despite the fact I had made an announcement on Tuesday, March 15, saying that we will be on hiatus and will not be publishing anything new till our break was over: I, however, find myself obligated to break my word.
Because as it is with all rules, there are times when we have to make an exception.
And what could be so important for which I felt the need to come out of hiatus and publish this editorial you may ask.
Well, it’s because of the article I read the other day titled, “On dialysis, she missed classes, Jamia says can’t write exam” published in the Indian Express on March 15, 2011. [Link]
According to the article, a Jamia Mass Media student by the name of Sonia (no last name provided) has been denied to take her final exams in April. And as you might have already guessed, the reason for it is class attendance.
Sonia has very little class attendance to show. And as we are all aware, we need 75% class attendance to get a hall ticket to take our exams.
However, Sonia’s case is not that simple and straightforward.
Again, according to the article, Sonia is suffering from kidney failure and has to get a dialysis done at a hospital twice a week. For those who don’t know, a patient suffering from kidney failure has to get dialysis done in order to live. It’s not something you can simply walk it off.
But before I say anything further, let me just be clear that I’m in total support of our university’s attendance policy. Even 75% sounds reasonable to me.
Class participation, I believe, is an integral part of university education; regardless of how good you maybe on your own.
I believe school education is not just about passing some examination. It is a lot more than that. I believe, it is about developing the skill to critically form and put forward a convincing viewpoint on a subject or a topic through discussion. We learn just by talking about something. And this kind of learning is something we cannot do by reading books.
So for me, to have a rich and meaningful school education, I need my class mates to be there with me in class when a topic is being taught or discussed. And this is why some schools have points for class participation in the overall grade.
And I will go to the extent of saying: that for this reason alone, it becomes a moral obligation for a student to attend class. Because her attendance in class is not just for her sake, but for the sake of others as well.
So I’ll say this again as clearly as possible: I whole heartedly support Jamia’s attendance policy.
That said: Jamia barring Sonia from taking her final exams due to a shortage in class attendance is not just an unreasonable act, but an unconscionable one. How insensitive can we be to her plight.
The girl’s request is to be allowed to take the test; the request is not to grant her a passing certificate without having to prove her capability.
The basic idea behind rules and regulations I believe, is to create order in a system, and at the heart of every rule or law lies our notion of fairness and justice.
We require class attendance because we believe it is a just demand from a regular student. But when the same rule is applied to a student who clearly has a very good reason to be exempted from such a rule, our imposition of this rule becomes unjust. It goes against the very spirit of the rule.
Instead of punishing her for the unfortunate condition she finds herself in, we ought to commend her for finding the courage to go on with her life. How many of us would have the fortitude to go on with our lives if we were to find ourselves in her shoes? I for one, would not have the necessary drive to continue with my education. It would be the furthest thing from my mind.
So I request the university to let Sonia take her final exams.
It is the — least — we can do for her.