EDUCATION / GOVERNANCE
Topic: General Studies 2:
- Issues relating to development and management of Education
On JEE-NEET during the pandemic
Context: Conducting Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) amid a pandemic is not easy, but options are limited
About NEET & JEE
- The NEET is the only gateway for MBBS/BDS admissions in the country.
- JEE Main is for students aspiring to pursue undergraduate courses in top engineering institutes in India
- JEE is not mandatory for State government-run and private institutions.
- Both JEE & NEET is conducted by National Testing Agency
Dilemmas faced by Union Education Ministry
- Sustaining a merit-based admission process (through conducting exams)
- Ensuring physical and emotional well-being of aspirants during COVID-19 times and thus the pressure of postponing exams
- Limiting the academic disruption caused due to pandemic
Supreme Court on conducting these exams: When petitions were filed to postpone the exams, SC declined to interfere with the conduct of the two common entrance tests.
Arguments in favour of Conducting Exams
- Support of Judiciary: From an academic perspective, the Supreme Court has observed that the career of students “cannot be put in peril for long”.
- Support of Parent/Students: A “silent majority” favours the exams as an overwhelming number of registered candidates have downloaded their admit cards.
- Support by Academics: Directors of several IITs have expressed concern that further delay could lead to a “zero academic year” and any quick alternative to the crucial exams will dilute the quality of education
Arguments against conducting exams
- Fear of contracting COVID-19 from examination centres: The NEET will be conducted in 3,843 centres across 155 cities, whereas the number of applicants is about 15.97 lakh.
- Practical Challenges: With many States not resuming public transport services and hotels remaining closed, travel and accommodation for candidates from interior regions is a major challenge
- Disproportionately impact Girls’ prospects of Higher Education: Social and cultural pressures are such that girls from villages and tier-3 towns are likely to face hurdles as travelling alone would not be encouraged under these unusual circumstances.
- The government must explore alternatives such as allowing States to conduct medical admissions based on Class XII Board marks using standard normalisation.
- NEET could be limited to central institutions.
- The examination slots could be staggered and the number of centres increased drastically.
Connecting the dots:
- NEET and its criticisms
- National Testing Agency