Bengaluru: Two years ago when the Supreme Court directed the Medical Council of India (MCI) to introduce a nationwide single test for admission to under graduate and post graduate medical courses, lakhs of students, unhappy with admission tests conducted by private consortiums, and deemed to be universities, had happily applauded.
MCI was supposed to conduct the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to the MBBS course from the academic year 2012-13, but due to pressure from various stakeholders including the Karnataka government, it postponed it to 2013-14. But now a bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir has in an interim order allowed the state governments, private medical institutions and deemed to be universities to follow last year’s admission process for this academic year as well.
What this means is that the NEET score cards will be used only for admissions to all India quota seats in state government colleges and institutions run by the Union health ministry. The final verdict on the validity and applicability of NEET is expected in the first week of July.
An officer of the state medical education department says the CET cell, COMEDK, Karnataka Religious and Linguistic Minority Colleges’ Association and various deemed universities can now start the admission process without the NEET score card for the coming academic year. “All these consortiums, cells and deemed universities have already conducted their own admission tests.
Now following the SC order they will publish the key answers and release the results. No one knows how the exams were conducted and the seats filled. Seat blocking is as rampant as ever in most private medical colleges and deemed to be universities. We hope the Union government will come out with some guidelines to restrict this as we are helpless in the matter,” he adds.
Will NEET bring in more equality & opportunity?
The Supreme Court’s decision to put off its verdict on the National Eligbility-cum-Entrance Test could be a blessing in disguise as NEET is not based on a properly outlined syllabus, according to some academicians.
“The Supreme Court’s verdict is a very good one as the government needs to establish a number of things about NEET,” says Professor Balaveera Reddy, former VTU Vice Chancellor, arguing that at least a two years notice was essential before an exam was conducted on such a scale.
“Even exams like the CAT, conducted each year by the IIMs, were brought into effect two years from the time they were drawn up giving an entire batch of pre-university students adequate time to prepare. When the verdict is out in July, I hope the SC specifies the year of conducting the exam and the syllabus,” he added.
The fact that the exam will be based largely on the CBSE syllabus is a source of worry for the large number of students studying under the state boards, according to him. “The NEET should ideally be based on the PU syllabus, but the government wants all the states to adapt to the CBSE,” he noted.
But welcoming NEET nevertheless, he pointed out that with an all India exam, students with a good ranking could either opt for a reputed college outside the state, or an excellent college locally. “As 50 per cent of medical and engineering seats within the state are reserved for local students, an all-India exam will only increase their options,” he maintained. But not all students seem to be as sure. “We don’t know whether the NEET is good or bad,” shrugged Rashmi Baliga, a student.
Entrance tests must be commonly governed
The issue of NEET is a multi-dimensional one. It’s only okay to have such national eligibility entrance tests when there is a common governance system for education, which doesn’t exist in our country. The different states have their own eligibility criterion and the NEET its own set of rules.
Take, for instance, the fact that there is no standardisation of the basic pre-requisite course material. The state syllabi are all different from each other and then there are the students who graduate under the CBSE and ICSE boards.
The kind of inputs that go into preparing for exams and the levels of competition are also different. So you go through all that, only to find that your marks in the qualifying exams don’t matter so much as your performance in the entrance tests. We need to ask ourselves whether students need to undergo so much stress?
It also seems as if there are two levels of justice here, double standards, so to speak. The NEET was brought in because of injustice in the allocation of seats in medical colleges. But by delaying the verdict, we seem to be saying that injustice is permitted this year, but it will be controlled in future.
If I had a child taking the test today, I would wish she was taking it one year later. Also education has its own gestation period, which we never consider. COMEDK dates clashed with those of CLAT only on Sunday. With the kind of technology we have at our disposal, couldn’t this have been avoided?
With education having become a commodity, what we are looking at here is a certain callousness towards the lives of people.