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'CUET is not a good idea at all'

By SHOBHA WARRIER
Last updated on: July 15, 2022 06:46 IST
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'It encourages a shadow industry, the coaching industry.'
'Only those students who have the resources to go for coaching, benefit.'

Kindly note the image has only been published for representational purposes. Photograph: ANI Photo

First, it was NEET (The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, all India pre-medical entrance test) that created a furore all over the country with Tamil Nadu leading the states in its strong criticism of conducting such a pan-India test.

The latest is CUET (Central Universities Entrance test for undergraduate studies in the central universities).

This is the central government's idea to create a common education system for the entire country, under the one nation-one culture, one nation-language policy.

"The students who benefit more from these tests are those who can afford coaching, guidebooks and other such paraphernalia, and are fluent in the language of the test," Professor Anita Rampal, former dean, Faculty of Education, Delhi University," tells Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier.

The first of a two-part interview:

"Those students who cannot access such resources and also those who are from smaller towns and villages where the coaching industry may not be active are at a disadvantage."

 

States and academicians are divided over whether an entrance test for graduate studies is needed or not. As the former dean of the Faculty of Education at Delhi University that comes under CUET, what is your opinion?

Delhi University has been conducting entrance examinations for some courses especially for the master's programmes and also our professional courses like BEd and MEd.

What is important is the nature of the test.

I believe that the university should be conducting its own tests.

A university should decide what it is looking for, and the test should not be the only measure on which a student should be selected.

A test should be followed by a second or third layer of either an interview, an analytical written test or a discussion.

It shouldn't be based on just one written test with multiple-choice questions.


IMAGE: Professor Anita Rampal.
Photograph: Prof. Anita Rampal

Those who support CUET say that when you have a common entrance test, a student need not spend so much money to write so many entrance tests for various universities. So, they say, a common entrance is advantageous to students...

I don't agree with this argument.

A large exam which is very competitive always assesses a student's social advantage in terms of books, family support and resources to undergo private coaching, much more than what actually a student brings with him or her.

So, CUET is not a good idea at all because it encourages a shadow industry, the coaching industry.

Only those students who have the resources to go for coaching, benefit.

Those who are against a common test say it is disadvantageous to students who study Plus 2 in their mother tongue, and those who are from rural areas. What do you say?

This argument is very true and valid.

The students who benefit more from these tests are those who can afford coaching, guidebooks and other such paraphernalia, and are fluent in the language of the test.

Those students who cannot access such resources and also those who are from smaller towns and villages where the coaching industry may not be active are at a disadvantage.

Secondly, this test is said to be based on the NCERT syllabus which is followed by the schools affiliated to the CBSE.

Most of the state boards have their own syllabus. Again, students studying in the state board are at a disadvantage.

By following the NCERT syllabus to conduct CUET, you are giving an advantage to those studying the NCERT syllabus which is a very small number.

On the other hand, there are lakhs of students who study in various state boards.

So, you are advantaging a small minority and disadvantaging a larger majority.

Kindly note the image has only been published for representational purposes. Photograph: ANI Photo

Supporters of CUET say that an entrance test will give a chance for students to study anywhere in India, on the lines of JEE.

First, JEE is not a very good model to follow.

We know that JEE benefits only some kind of students while it can demoralise the majority and even push their families into indebtedness.

JEE has given rise to a flourishing coaching industry both online and offline.

The Kota industry, for instance, takes a heavy toll on children from middle class families who take loans mortgaging their house to send their child to Kota to prepare for JEE.

This causes a lot of emotional burden and stress on the child as he or she is aware of the investment by the parents on something that has a very small chance.

We know that some students live there for 3-4 years preparing for JEE.

So, for a middle-income or low-income family, it is a burden financially and for the child, it is an emotional burden.

After 3-4 years, the child can be totally demotivated and demoralised.

The argument that CUET is on the lines of JEE does not make it more acceptable.

It is not going to equalise the chances of students getting access to quality higher education in public institutions.

That's why Tamil Nadu has decided to go by the Plus 2 marks which gives a chance for a diverse population to access higher studies.

Yes, it is not an ideal solution, but since Tamil Nadu has taken a considered position it, there is a valid reason behind it.

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

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