Editorial: NEET Fiasco Leaves Students In The Lurch

Editorial: NEET Fiasco Leaves Students In The Lurch

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Monday, June 17, 2024, 10:33 PM IST
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The recent NEET controversy underlines the need for a robust testing mechanism that will take the needs and aspirations of hundreds of students into consideration. The row over an improbable 67 students getting perfect scores, the grace marks awarded to 1563 students who appeared in six testing centres where there were allegedly technical glitches, parents and candidates crying foul over paper leaks and the Opposition uproar over the entire NEET fiasco promises to roil the upcoming session of the new Parliament. The case has reached the Supreme Court but more immediate is the plight of 24 lakh aspirants whose future hangs in balance. Even since its inception in 2013, NEET has faced a great deal of Opposition, especially from southern states, particularly Tamil Nadu, as the exam is largely based on the CBSE syllabus while many states follow their own boards. This puts students of state boards at a distinct disadvantage. The spate of suicides in Tamil Nadu is testament to the agony that students undergo in the process of aspiring for a medical education.

The National Testing Agency (NTA) has been found wanting in the conduct of the NEET-UG examination this year. Its series of flip flops by withdrawing the grace marks allotted to students and ordering a retest for the 1563 candidates does not inspire confidence in its ability to conduct an exam that will select future medical professionals for India. The NTA informed the top court of the decision to conduct a retest for a select number of students. Dharmendra Pradhan, who has been reappointed Education Minister in the new NDA government, has denied any paper leak but admitted that the NTA needs a lot of improvement. The Opposition, meanwhile, is demanding a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the whole controversy. What is abundantly clear is that the entire system requires a revamp. Medical education in India is a subject that is rarely discussed in depth by the powers that be. If the earlier malaise of inordinately high capitation fees has seen a decline, now the NEET conundrum is creating havoc for lakhs of aspirants, especially those from the rural belts and smaller towns. This year it is not just 24 lakh candidates but their families too who are caught in the throes of bureaucratic inefficiency. Parents mortgage everything for a bright future for their children and a career in medicine or engineering is the highest prize. For the new government at the Centre, the NEET controversy is not something that it planned to face at the beginning of its innings. Though Pradhan has accused the Opposition of raking up an unnecessary controversy, the nationwide protests are a spontaneous expression of people’s anger. The government must do everything in its power to allay the fears and anxieties of lakhs of students.

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