Govt gears up to conduct exams despite chorus against schedule
Even as a chorus grew from the Opposition against the Centre’s schedule to hold the NEET and JEE entrance exams in September, the Union education ministry and the National Testing Agency (NTA) on Wednesday continued to work towards what would be the biggest entrance test to be conducted during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
According to another government official, who asked not to be named, the education ministry is keen that the exams are held because it will help keep the academic year on track and not keep the students in “perpetual uncertainty”. The official said there was no alternative to these exams, especially because colleges such as IITs and AIIMS were highly coveted.
For JEE (Main), a total of 741,000 candidates out of 858,000 have so far downloaded their admit cards. Only 332 candidates requested for a change of their centre cities, which was being considered, a government official said on condition of anonymity. For NEET, 684,000 candidates (out of a total of 1.59 million) downloaded the admit cards in first five hours, since start of the process at 11.55am, the official added.
The JEE (Main) exam will be held at 660 centres across India from September 1 to 6, while NEET candidates will take the exam at 3,842 test centres on September 13.
The National Testing Agency (NTA) has emphasised that it will hold the exams safely and a detailed protocol has been put in place. Among the states which have questioned the move to hold the NEET and JEE exams are West Bengal, Delhi, Odisha and Tamil Nadu. These are states from which a large number of candidates are going to appear for the two exams.
IIT Delhi director V Ramgopal Rao said in a social media post that he was in favour of conducting the examinations by taking all precautions and following social distancing norms. “Lockdown is not a solution to COVID. Lockdown was needed to prepare ourselves better. We cannot be perpetually in lockdown mode. COVID is not going to go away for another 6 months to one year. We all need to get used to this new normal. The earlier we realize that, the better it is for all of us. The last postponement of exams definitely helped us prepare well now,” Rao said.
Professor Ajit K Chaturvedi, director, IIT Roorkee, said: “The JEE exams should be held as per their schedule in September 2020. A large number of students and their parents want the exams to be conducted and looking forward to the wait to end now. The pandemic has already disrupted the academic plans of many students and institutions and we don’t see the pandemic going away anytime soon. We should not let this be a zero academic year as it might have consequences on the bright future of several students.”