The indefinite closure of colleges in the State due to the ongoing protest against Sri Lankan war crimes has put many teachers in a dilemma.

While most say the closure is justified, considering the protests were intensifying day by day, they also believe classes need to commence soon for the semester to end on time.

This Monday, practical exams of students in science colleges and exams to test communication abilities of students in arts colleges were to begin. With the colleges closed, they now stand postponed.

Members of the Tamil Nadu Government College Teachers’ Association said they shared the sentiments of the protesting students but they hoped the colleges reopened soon. “We teach the student every day and it feels good to see them questioning human rights violations. But we also need to note that the first casualty of any disturbance in Sri Lanka is the activity in colleges here,” said M. Ravichandran, a senior professor at a college.

The association has sent a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to look into the issue at the earliest.

L. Prathaban, general secretary of the association said, “It is not fair to question the closure of colleges during the protests and we understand the State government has done it to maintain law and order. We urge the Union government to take note of the issue, and ensure peace returns to our college campuses soon.”

“Academic activity was at its peak when the protests began. It will take time for students and teachers to get into the preparation mode, even after classes start,” said a senior professor at a law college. Teachers have 180 working days every academic year, divided between two semesters, and exams cannot begin unless those days are completed, he explained.

Teachers say theory exams, scheduled to begin around April, are also likely to be postponed. “This might cause a delay in results. Also, the evaluation of results will have to be sped up, which is not good,” said R. Madhusudhan, an assistant profesor at a college.

Engineering colleges are in a tighter bind. “The last phase of campus recruitments started this month and many companies had agreed to visit campuses, only after a great deal of negotiation. Now their visits stands cancelled too,” said a placement officer of a private college.

Some company officials had agreed to conduct interviews on their own premises or hotels, but college managements say they cannot afford not agree to pay for the exorbitant costs potential employers charge for this. asked by the employers. Also, students from other states and districts have left for their hometowns because the colleges are now closed.

“A lot of these companies are from the core engineering sector, looking to fill vacancies as soon as possible. It is very likely that they might go to other States to finish their recruitment,” said R. Selvan, principal of an engineering college.

The delay in the arrival results of students in colleges affiliated to Anna University had already left students with little time to focus on their semester exams which begin next month. “The curriculum of this semester is not over yet and those with arrears in the last semester found out their results rather late. Many students are in a fix now as their next set of exams is due to begin soon,” said S. Anbuthambi, an engineering student.

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