The Union health ministry’s decision to conduct the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) 2017 in eight languages — including English and Marathi — has brought cheer to the student community. This move comes after the Supreme Court, in its 2016 order, made it clear that any entrance test held at a national level should be conducted in regional languages as well, especially as most state-conducted entrance exams are conducted in more than one local language.
“In 2016, many students from rural Maharashtra, who were preparing to appear for the HSC exam in Marathi, faced difficulties in appearing for NEET as they could not opt for the exam to be held in regional languages. This move will help them,” said Rajesh Jain, state representative of Parents’ Association for Medical Students (PAMS). He added that a big chunk of students who could not appear for NEET 2016 owing to the language barrier might try their luck in 2017.
In May, after the Supreme Court made it clear that admissions to medical and dental courses across the country would only be conducted through NEET, many states had raised objections to the abrupt implementation of NEET in place of the state-conducted Common Entrance Test (CET) for medical admissions. The state government — in its review petition to the Supreme Court — had highlighted the dilemma of thousands of students in the state, whose first language was Marathi. “While the petition was filed to retain CET for 2016, the court maintained their stand on NEET and said regional languages would be implemented from 2017. We are glad the government stuck by their word,” said Anjali Pillai, parent of a medical aspirant.
While parents are happy about the inclusion of regional languages for NEET 2017, many were worried as released the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has not released an official statement about the entrance test, rules and registrations. “There is news of Class 10 and 12 exams in some states being postponed owing to the elections. If so, NEET will get delayed too. Even the CBSE’s annual circular about NEET hasn’t been released as yet, so there is confusion. Hopefully the circular will be out soon,” said another parent.