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Medical Education: Over-centralisation is harsh

  • IASbaba
  • May 18, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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GOVERNANCE/ FEDERALISM/ EDUCATION

Topic: General Studies 2 & 3:

  • Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in Education sector

Medical Education: Over-centralisation is harsh

Context: The introduction of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) has been criticised as excessive state interference in the functioning of Private-unaided and minority medical educational institutions

What Is NEET?

  • It is an entrance exam for medical courses like MBBS, BDS, and Post Graduation in both government and private medical colleges. 
  • The NTA – National Testing Agency, the regulatory body for NEET UG Exam, conducts it every year in various parts of India. 
  • NEET is based on a core curriculum approach, whereby the syllabi of all the school boards have been taken into consideration.

What are the issues with NEET?

  • Against Federal Spirit: There are allegations that NEET is infringing upon the state governments’ power to hold admissions in the medical colleges funded by them. 
  • Infringes on Autonomy: NEET is an assault on the autonomy of universities and higher education institutions, particularly private, unaided ones
  • Against Article 30 and 19(1)(g): This provides right to minority educational institutions to administer themselves. 
  • If a minority institution wants additional qualifications over and above the NEET score, denial of such additional and superior qualifications undermines its choice
  • Regional Imbalance: Students from some of the state boards(Ex. North East) are at a disadvantage from progressive boards (Ex: Delhi).
  • Urban Bias: Students in rural India and those studying in state government-run schools in vernacular medium seem to have a lesser chance of success.
  • Lack of Uniformity: There are wide variations with regard to curriculum design and curriculum evaluation among CBSE and State Boards
  • Enhances the risk: If a student has to give multiple tests (different state boards/institutions), then the chances of failure in one can be made up in another.
  • Credibility Issues: The NEET paper was leaked twice in the last four years; therefore, there is not much confidence in NEET’s fairness and transparency.
  • Issue of wrong translation: In the 2018 NEET, as many as 49 questions had errors in Tamil translation 
  • Element of Class: Empirical research in the USA on standardised common tests has found that these tests are biased against the poorer and underprivileged sections of population, women and minorities
  • Not Comprehensive: Common admission tests cannot measure abilities that are essential for learning such as imagination, curiosity and motivation.

What has been the Supreme Court verdict on NEET?

  • In T.M.A. Pai Foundation, SC had held that admission by the management can be by a common entrance test held by “itself or by the State/University
  • NEET was initially struck down as unconstitutional in Christian Medical College, Vellore (2013) by a 2:1 majority.
  • However, in 2016, the Supreme Court approved the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test(NEET) as a single-level examination

What is the Supreme Court view on Article 30?

Supreme Court itself termed Article 30 as 

  • ‘An article of faith’ in Lilly Kurian (1978)
  • A ‘sacred obligation’ in Kerala Education Bill (1957)
  • ‘The conscience of the nation’ in Ahmedabad St. Xaviers College (1974)
  • ‘An absolute right’ in Rev. Sidhajbhai Sabhai And Others (1962) 
  • Part of the ‘basic structure’ in Kesavananda Bharati (1973)

Conclusion

However, SC has consistently held that Article 30 is not so absolute as to be above the law and regulations made in the interests of efficiency of instruction, discipline, health, sanitation, morality and public order.

Connecting the dots:

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