Majority students are demanding postponement of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) citing COVID-19 risks. The central government stated these competitive entrance tests for admissions to technical and medical Undergraduate (UG) programmes will be conducted in September.
Ayesha Nasir, a student preparing for NEET, said, "This entrance exam is a major milestone of our academic career. I have been preparing for this exam for the last two years. But, considering the pandemic, I do not want to put my life or the health of my family members at risk. As much as I want to appear for the exam so that I can finally stop studying for it, I am scared for my health and the safety of my family. The central government is forcing us to appear for exams when the number of coronavirus cases is increasing every day."
Dr Rajesh Kumar Srivastava, professor of Sydenham College, Churchgate said, "There is an apprehension among students even though some of them are ready to appear for JEE and NEET exams. Students have this question- what will happen if their health is affected? Who will be responsible? The government should cover the medical insurance of students, initiate safety measures and take full responsibility if they wish to conduct exams. The central government and agencies conducting exams should be in touch with students constantly, inform them about safety measures and provide regular updates."
The National Testing Agency (NTA), the autonomous body which conducts entrance examinations for admissions and fellowships in higher educational institutions, has received representations to postpone these examinations. The agency stated it has also received a large number of representations to not postpone these examinations.
Yashanda Mohite, an educationist and administrator, said, "Considering the current COVID-19 situation, NEET and JEE exams should be postponed for now. The government should postpone it to a later time when the situation is under control after consulting the disaster management and frontline medical authorities of respective states. These exams are of prime importance as they serve as a gateway to technical and medical fields. So they should be conducted at a later date because students have been preparing for these competitive tests for a long time.
Al-Nasser Zakaria, professor and activist, said, "The COVID-19 outbreak is a global pandemic, which has affected students worldwide. Considering the larger interest of the student fraternity, it is advisable to postpone NEET and JEE exams. The health and life of a student is more precious than an exam and that should be given precedence. Students can give exams anytime if their health is safe. Had it not been for the pandemic, nobody would have demanded the postponement of exams. The approach of the central government to conduct exams despite the cry of students stating otherwise is not pragmatic at all."