The provisions of ICAI Act, clause 39(4) states that a student has the right to verification of marks subject to totalling and marking error. It specifically restricts re-examination of answer scripts, which is re-checking of the answer scripts by any other examiner other than the original examiner.
CA students have been requesting the ICAI to modify the above mentioned provisions to allow students for re-examination of answer scripts. Many prominent faculties have stepped up to show their support in favor of the students.
The argument that they have put forward is that the provision should be amended in favor of the students as re-examination is a process which is subject to human error. A student puts in a lot of hard work to clear one of the toughest examinations in India, the CA examination. Therefore, seeing the limitation of human-error, it is only fair for the students who self-assess that they deserve more marks than the one actually awarded. Through re-examination, human-error cannot be completely eliminated but can definitely mitigated through cross-examination.
It has been almost three months now, that the students and teachers together have been urging the administrative body to make reforms. Digital medium has been the means of communication throughout. #amend394 has been trending on twitter and teachers are showing their support and progress through posting videos on YouTube.
Recently, due to the absence of any specific update from the fraternity, students and teachers had declared to go on a silent protest in the form of a hunger strike. The news was conveyed through a YouTube video. Just after the news of the protest broke the internet, the President of ICAI, Shri Naveen N.D. Gupta spoke to CA students through a live webcast.
He assured students that necessary reforms are being introduced and the administration is doing everything in its power to make things happen. He said that reforms like these, require multi-level approvals, and the matter has been escalated to the authorities. He requested the students to be patient and believe in their alma mater, ICAI. Meanwhile, he also introduced various changes in the examination and evaluation system.
Some of the changes mentioned by him were:
1. In elective papers, 40% MCQ based questions have been introduced to reduce the subjectivity. Today elective papers are open book exams and from Nov. 2018 exams students are also allowed to carry their own study material for reference during the exams.
2. They are continuously working on updating all the subjects' updated study material on a regular basis.
3. The board will release the updated and rationalized study materials in Jan 2019.
4. There are misconceptions and doubts among the stakeholders regarding the results declared and for this purpose, Digital Evaluation (e-evaluation) has been introduced to improve the quality of evaluation of answer books.
5. Through e-evaluation continuous monitoring of examiners can be done including the fact that who is checking the answer, time taken in checking each answer and overall answer book which will help to assess the quality of checking of answer books.
6. Their system of e-evaluation will keep on checking randomly whether the person who has been given the responsibility of checking the answer books are actually checking or not.
7. The e-evaluation was done on a pilot basis in last two examinations and now it has been extended to Ist group of Intermediate level from Nov. 2018 examination.
8. Due to e-evaluation the student would be able to get their certificate copies within a substantially reduced time.
9. The pilot project of Centralized Evaluation of one subject of Final level in Nov. 2018 exam is also under implementation. He clearly mentioned that in Centralized Evaluation the examiners would be checking the copies under the supervision of Head Examiner and Associate Head Examiner and based on the result of such pilot project the Centralized Evaluation system would be rolled out for remaining subjects as well.
10. In a very good step, It has also been said that if in any answer step-wise marks are not awarded then such answers would be considered as Not Evaluated and step marks would be awarded during the course of re-verification.
These are some of the changes mentioned by him in the webcast. You can find a detailed report here.
In furtherance to the webcast, he also spoke to the students directly in a one-on-one open mic session in the CA Students’ Conference held at New Delhi. In the conference, along with the administration of ICAI Board of Studies, he answered the queries of many students representing different states of the nation.
Being present with the students, I observed some tension among the students. The students did not seem to hold any grudges, however, they were genuinely distressed. On the other hand, the administration was into a lot of pressure where they care about the students but are also tied up with the processes involved. The administration truly tried to resolve the grievances of the students. It also accepted if it lacked in resolving some issues and humbly promised to resolve it at the earliest. They noted all the suggestions proposed by the students and assured successful implementation of the same at the earliest possible.
After the conference, a video on YouTube revealed that in the light of the recent changes the students have put the protest on hold. They will be awaiting good news at the CA Students’ Conference to be held in Mumbai, post which they will update their next move.
To sum up, it seems to be a neutral conflict. Both the parties are working towards a common objective i.e. better evaluation system for the overall betterment of the students. While the students’ demand for a reform, administration’s hands are tied with the processes involved in bringing about those changes.