ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Too NEET and Uniform

Imposition of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test ignores India’s diversity.

The Supreme Court’s 2016 directive, recalling a 2013 ruling, that the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), a common examination for medical and dental college admissions, be implemented from that year, was welcomed for a number of reasons. Given India’s healthcare needs, the importance of medical education cannot be overstated. A common all-India test would ensure that students need not take a plethora of examinations in various places, the supervision by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) would straighten out several irregularities and a uniform syllabus would create a level playing field for everyone. As it turns out, NEET appears to be a one-size-fits-all solution for a country that is highly diverse and complex. It also wipes out the different state-level exams and procedures that have had positive outcomes in making higher education more accessible to the poor in some states. The suicide of 17-year-old S Anitha, daughter of a Dalit labourer from Tamil Nadu, on not being able to clear NEET is a case in point.

Paradoxically, when the apex court struck down the government notification on NEET in 2013 in the Christian Medical College and Others v Union of India, it had stated reasons that are still valid. It held that it would deprive states, state-run universities and all medical colleges, including those run by religious and linguistic minorities, from admitting students. It also held that NEET would prove difficult for students from rural areas and government and vernacular language medium schools. In fact, in 2013 Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu had stridently opposed the imposition of NEET. Other worries expressed by NEET’s opponents are also familiar but unaddressed. They argue that the CBSE syllabus is not only urban-centric but also very different from those of state board schools and like most other all-India common entrance examinations, NEET too can be successfully tackled only by those ­students who can afford expensive coaching classes. Incidentally, central medical institutes like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) do not come under NEET as they have their own entrance tests.

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Updated On : 18th Sep, 2017

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