Editorial: Unpardonable Disasters In Entrance Exams Must Be Stopped

Editorial: Unpardonable Disasters In Entrance Exams Must Be Stopped

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Saturday, June 22, 2024, 03:13 AM IST
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With unpardonable continuing disasters in India’s top qualifying and entrance examinations like National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) and the June edition of the University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET), it is time to ask why heads have not yet rolled. Conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), these exams draw lakhs of students across the country for which they spend precious resources and time studying; those from poorer families hypothecate their assets or take loans to prepare in the hope of a seat in a good medical college through NEET, and junior research fellowship or assistant professorship through the UGC-NET.

In both the exams, paper leaks and other malpractices came to light. The union Ministry of Education had to call off the UGC-NET examination earlier this week and ask students to await another date. The NEET issue has been taken to the Supreme Court. Lakhs of students who took the exams — nearly 10 lakhs for UGC-NET — are now left high and dry, waiting, and seeing several months of their academic life go in vain. “The integrity of the examination might have been compromised,” stated the ministry while cancelling the UGC-NET. How can men and women in the NTA whose job it is to administer such eligibility or entrance examinations slip up so badly? And now that they have, why should they continue to hold on to their exalted positions? Resignations are in order. If they do not step down, the ministry must take the hard call and replace the evidently incompetent set of officers with more skill and professionalism.

However, this may be too much to ask of the Narendra Modi-led government which has been hell-bent on staffing key positions in academic institutions, including sensitive organisations such as the NTA and renowned universities, with men and women whose intellectual achievements are questionable but whose ideological loyalty to the right wing is not. Institutions cannot be run this way, nor will handing over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation redeem the situation. It is not that examination paper leaks did not happen in the pre-Modi era or marks-related malpractices began lately. The difference between then and now is the scale of the scandals happening involving lakhs of unsuspecting students — and their families — and their frequency which prompted the Opposition to lampoon the government as ‘paper leak sarkar’. There is little to be gained by repeating India’s demographic dividend as an asset if the country’s premier testing agency lets down lakhs of young Indians this way. Its top brass continuing in office is untenable.

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