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JEE, NEET: 'Don't make us scapegoats'

By DIVYA NAIR
August 31, 2020 08:41 IST
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'What is the need to postpone the exam?'
Divya Nair/Rediff.com reports.

Students take an entrance exam in Gujarat, India

IMAGE: Students take an entrance test while maintaining social distance in Ahmedabad. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

On Thursday, August 27, six states filed a review petition before the Supreme Court challenging its August 17 order which had allowed the central government to hold the entrance examinations -- NEET and JEE -- from September 1 despite the prevailing pandemic.

While JEE, which enables admission into Indian Institutes of Technology and engineering colleges, is scheduled to be held from September 1 to 6, NEET, the national-level medical entrance examination, is scheduled for September 13.

858,000 candidates have registered for JEE-Main and 1,597 million for NEET.

According to Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal over 1.7 million out of the nearly 2.5 million candidates have already downloaded admit cards for the medical and engineering entrance exams.

IIT-Kharagpur, IIT-Ropar, IIT-Roorkee, IIT-Gandhinagar and IIT-Guwahati are in favour of the government's decision and making necessary arrangements for the students to take the JEE.

Vineeta Mhaskar, the parent of an 18 year old from Mumbai, is among the parents who have written e-mails to the authorities. She feels the exam needs to be held as scheduled.

"My son has been preparing for this exam since he was in Class 9, three years ago. Postponing the exam would mean losing one full year. It would be unfair to lakhs of students who have put in so much time, money and hard work into preparing for this day," says Vineeta.

"They are already under a lot of stress after their Class 12 results. Even if they clear the JEE or NEET, the competition is going to be so tough and there is no guarantee their first semester is going to be smooth," Vineeta points out.

"The least we can do is allow the examination to happen online and/or offline so at least their academic year is not wasted," adds Vineeta.

DJ *, who appeared for JEE Main in January and scored 94 percentile, feels the exam has already been delayed and prolonging it further will only cause more harm.

"What is the need to postpone the exam?" asks DJ.

"It has already been delayed by five months. The exam lasts only 3 hours and if the governments come together with a common agenda for students, they can make provisions for conducting the exams safely," DJ adds.

"The pandemic shouldn't be made an excuse for political gains. You can get the virus even when you are locked in at home. I won't say it will be fair for all, but at least do it in batches so our careers are not at stake."

"Delaying the exam means we will be competing with the next academic batch that will take the JEE in another six months."

"I know a lot of people are sitting and yelling on television debates about opting for a zero academic year and sounding all concerned about us. But what about the lakhs of students who have been preparing for this exam since a year or more along with board examinations?" asks Nikhil Misra *, who scored 91 per cent in his Class 12 exam this year.

"Some of our classmates have already signed up for bachelor courses and will begin their academic year in September and October while here we are still debating about an entrance exam that should have happened in April. It is just not fair!" exclaims Nikhil.

Sonam Myatra, a Class 12 student who has been preparing for NEET for over a year, agrees that she is anxious about the exam, but feels the Centre should take a favourable decision that accommodates everyone's best interests.

"NEET is already postponed from May to September. Some of my friends are worried that their centres are far away from home and in close proximity to COVID hotspots. But if the exam is postponed to October and more students can take the exam with better facilities, I am okay with that," says Sonam.

"Kerala has seen the worst floods in the last two years. Bihar, Odisha and Assam have been facing it every year. It is not a new situation. Besides, it is a natural disaster that you and I have no control over. That shouldn't be seen as an excuse to extend the suffering of our children who are already hassled and uncertain especially after their board examinations this year," says Rajendra Prasad, the father of a Class 12 student who is confident of appearing for JEE this year.

Raji Subbaram, whose son recently cleared his Class 10 ICSE and is preparing to appear for the JEE in 2022, argues that prolonging the exam makes no sense.

"Our children have already faced so much anxiety in the months leading to their board examination. No matter how much progressive we tend to sound when we say marks don't really matter, unfortunately, if you need your child to get into a good college or university, it still is the penultimate criteria for admission," Raji points out.

They have been preparing for the exam since a year and their performance peaks around March-April when they get into the rigour," Raji adds.

"After peaking, when the exams get delayed and postponed with no clarity in sight, children lose focus and it affects their confidence and performance."

Arundathi is considering backup options for her daughter who scored 95 per cent in the Class 12 exam.

"The JEE is a very competitive examination. We didn't want our daughter to go through another round of pressure especially after her board examination. So we helped her prepare for a private engineering entrance examination," Arundhati explains.

"It is sad that these political parties are playing with our futures. At least they should have bothered to do a survey or ground check to see how many students are actually ready for the exam," says Bhushan Gavate *, who secured 91 per cent in the Ckass 12 exam.

"It is heartbreaking to see them make students like us scapegoats to fulfill their agenda. Those who want to study and move on will find a way and those who don't will use this pandemic as an excuse."

*Names withheld or changed to protect privacy.

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