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JEE - NEET: Exams During Pandemic (25 August 2020)

JEE - NEET: Exams During Pandemic (25 August 2020)

Why in News:

In the wake of Covid-19 risks, the National Testing Agency has issued detailed advisories for exam centre invigilators and candidates for the Joint Entrance Exam Mains and the National Eligibility and Entrance Test, set to be held next month.

Context:

 For admission to engineering colleges, JEE Mains is scheduled from 1 to 6 September, while the NEET, which is for admission to medical colleges, is to be conducted on 13 September. Looking to minimise the risk of infection, the NTA in its advisories has called for separate isolation rooms for candidates showing Covid symptoms. It has also directed the use of fresh masks, to be provided at the centre, apart from guidelines on social distancing, use of sanitisers and thermal screening. The agency has issued two advisories for candidates and invigilators over the last two days. The move came even as students have urged the Ministry of Education to postpone the exams amid rising Covid cases in the country. However, the NTA, which functions under the ministry, has already clarified that the exams won’t be postponed. 

Background:

The plea, filed by students had sought quashing of the July 3 notices issued by the National Testing Agency (NTA), by which it was decided to conduct the Joint Entrance Examination (Main) April 2020 and National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)-Undergraduate exams in September.

On 17 August, the Supreme Court dismissed the plea seeking postponement of these exams, saying precious year of students "cannot be wasted" and life has to go on.

Summary of the Debate

Challenges:

  • If any students suffering from general cold and cough they won’t be allowed inside the examination hall. This can risk their careers.
  • The parents and students will be feared of getting coronavirus.
  • Lack of public transport can also be a challenge for the authorities as well as students in reaching the examination centre on time.
  • It will be difficult for students as well as all the staffs at the centre to maintain social distance at all times.
  • There are so many students who had left for their hometowns before the nationwide lockdown was announced, so travelling back to the other cities to take the examination, will put their lives at risk.

             NEET, JEE Main 2020 As Per Schedule, NTA Leaves No Stone Unturned ...

Way Forward:

  • There should be a proper plan for such kind of emergencies and such kind of situations, equip ourselves, equip all the centres both in terms of hardware and software.
  • India owe to its young generation and the next generation that we enable them to develop their skills to develop their knowledge and go forward. Therefore, all the handicaps and all these obstructions, we have to find proper solution.
  • PM Narendra Modi has also said about taking optical fibres to every village, so every nook and corner of the country has to be covered and enabled with technology, so that nobody suffers of that account.
  • The only difficulty is reaching to the centre, inside the centre whether it is covid or no covid it is going to be the same environment.
  • They can hold it over a longer period of time may be they can give more dates and have lesser number of students taking exam on any particular date, so as to really take care of social distancing and all other measures required and they can also have few more centres, so that students don’t have to travel longer distances and become more convenient for the students to take exam.

Important points made by the Guests

Prof. Arun K. Pujari, Chairman, Steering Committee, Central Universities Common Entrance Examination

  • It is necessarily has to be a proctored exam, that is; the candidate has to come to a centre to write the exam where he is being supervised, without that it is not possible.
  • Only thing that may be different is that because of the pandemic and other thing, a student may choose a different time then just a fixed sitting that on this day from 10 to 11 an exam is conducted and all the students nationwide should come to a centre and write the exam, this is one model.
  • Other model we can say that, anytime we walk into any of these centres and write an exam but probably NTA is not yet ready to have a very large number of question banks from which randomly in different sittings different thing questions are drawn with the same level of degree of difficulty.
  • Now the stake of the carrier of the students is so much that if he misses the admission, he may always demand that my questions were difficult compared to the other questions.
  • So, in order to be safe, only one sitting nationwide being conducted and that is a difficult task for NTA to handle in the pandemic.
  • It is necessary to make the students be ready not to come with too many accompanying people, we have to make them ready to be self-sufficient to have their own snacks, own water, own lunch, so that there should not be outside vendors coming.
  • Now this is all for the environment which is outside the examination hall. Inside the examination hall it is not very difficult, so that can be handled because the number of centres being more, number of candidates would be less per centre, so it is not difficult.

Prof. Sushma Yadav, Vice Chancellor, Bhagat Phool Singh Mahila Vishwavidyalya  

  • We should have more centres, with almost more than 1000 universities and 50,000 institutions all around, we can find centres and we can follow these social distancing norms. People should take care instead of aged people accompanying these candidates, they may have their peer group or younger siblings who are around that age, who can accompany them, and they are out of danger zone almost.
  • Recovery rate in India is improving day by day; it is more than 75 percent by now, so covid pandemic is not as much a problem here although there are cases which are being spread.
  • Soon, we can go to a position where we can also offer; wherever one wants to take the exam and whenever one wants to take the exam, one can take but that’s an ideal situation and covid may give us opportunity, where NTA starts planning like this or Universities also start planning like this.
  • In the given situation we really have to think about those lakhs of lakhs of students who have been studying hard during covid, before covid, over the year last year and it’s not only a child who prepares in India, it’s the entire family which prepares for the exam, because parents work hard, siblings have to take care, so these exams are almost like the family exams. 
  • After this preparation giving them this chance to appear in the examination seems to be the most logical conclusion and it must be given; of course all caution has to be taken.
  • We can find innovative ways to meet the challenges of distance, challenges of discomfort and challenges of drawbacks of technology.

Sushil Chandra Tripathi, Former Secretary, Ministry of HRD, GoI

  • With the help of state government they can easily conduct the exam and it is not difficult. But not to take the exam and let students keep hanging indecisively will be wastage of time. One full year may get wasted.
  • We have to prepare our infrastructure both in material terms; that all the 50,000 colleges and 1000 Universities and about 2000 management schools and engineering colleges, they are equipped properly and the government should ensure the state governments and the central government should work together to ensure that they are equipped properly with all the modern tools of education and management including all kinds of computer.
  • For a large country like India, we have to develop the capacity and capability also like GRE and others to the question bank, so that at the same level of difficulty we have a large number of questions in every subject available over a period of time.
  • We have to prepare our youth to be world leaders; they have to have the best education, best facility and best motivation.

 

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