EDUCATION / FEDERALISM/ GOVERNANCE
Topic: General Studies 1, 2:
- Issues relating to development and management of Education
- Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure
Tamil Nadu NEET Quota
Context: Tamil Nadu Governor gave his assent to a Bill that sought to reserve 7.5% seats in undergraduate medical admissions for government-school students who qualified NEET. The Tamil Nadu Assembly had passed a Bill on the quota in September this year.
What Is NEET?
- It is an entrance exam for medical courses like MBBS, BDS, and Post Graduation in both government and private medical colleges.
- NEET-UG replaced the All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT) and all individual MBBS exams conducted by states or colleges themselves in 2013.
- The NTA – National Testing Agency, the regulatory body for NEET UG Exam, conducts it every year in various parts of India in multiple languages.
- The responsibility of the NTA is limited to the conduct of the entrance examination, declaration of result and for providing an “All India Rank Merit List” to the Directorate General Health Service, Government of India for the conduct of counselling for 15% All India Quota Seats and for providing the result to States/other Counselling Authorities.
- NEET is based on a core curriculum approach, whereby the syllabi of all the school boards have been taken into consideration.
Criticism of NEET: Click here
Why was Tamil Nadu opposed to NEET?
- Among the States that were strident in their opposition to NEET (National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test) was Tamil Nadu.
- One of the primary arguments that were made was that NEET would push certain categories of students out of the race for MBBS degrees, and its goal of providing equitable opportunities for all would be frustrated.
- Students from government schools and rural areas would not be able to afford the coaching that would be essential for the competitive test, the State government argued.
- Since 2017, when NEET was implemented in Tamil Nadu, only 14 students from government schools have managed to get admitted to the MBBS course.
What did the State do?
- The inevitability of using NEET to select candidates for MBBS seats led critics to point to unique disadvantages for students from government schools, and seek redress on this front.
- The government ran free coaching centres for NEET to help students prepare for the examination.
- In 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, of the nearly 700 government-school students who cleared the NEET, nine entered government medical colleges, according to data provided by Tamil Nadu health authorities.
- A Commission was set by Tamil Nadu State government and headed by retired High Court judge P. Kalaiyarasan, to set right the “de facto inequalities” between government-school students and private-school students.
- The Commission, in its report, made the observation that students from government schools are placed at a disadvantage, compared to their counterparts in private schools, “due to a cognitive gap created by socio-economic factors such as caste, wealth, parental occupation, parental education, gender, etc., and these psychological and socio-economic barriers cannot be bridged by a few months of intensive coaching for NEET, even if provided for free”.
- It recommended setting aside 10% seats for government students.
- As a result, the Assembly passed a Bill that sought to provide 7.5% horizontal reservation for government-school students in MBBS admissions.
- Horizontal reservations are applied irrespective of the community a student belongs to, just as in the case of quota for persons with disability or wards of ex-service personnel.
- The government also specified that if a government-school student has scored high marks, she or he could also opt to be allotted a seat based on their community reservation.
How many seats will students from government schools be eligible for this admission season?
- In the MBBS course in government medical colleges, 15% seats are set aside under the All India Quota, and the remaining 85% will be available for the State Quota, to be filled up according to the rule of reservation.
- A further percentage of seats (65% in private self-financing colleges, and 50% in private, self-financing minority colleges) will also be added to the government’s quota.
- This year, it adds up to a total of 4,058 seats, and 7.5% of that comes to 304 seats, according to State health authorities.
- State government has reiterated that the integrity of the 69% caste-based reservation for medical admissions would be preserved while admitting students to ensure that it is not violated in any manner
- Where 14 students were admitted in three years, 304 students from government schools will have the opportunity to take up medical education, provided they have cleared NEET.