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As the central government has announced the date for NEET (National Entrance-cum Eligibility Test) examination which is conducted for admission in various medical, dental and ayush(BAMS,BHMS , BUMS) courses in several government colleges throughout the country on 12-09-2021, the ever-going agitated debate in Tamil Nadu over NEET has again sparked. Students and parents from different socio-economic backgrounds have taken to their social media handles and streets to register their criticism against the discriminatory nature of the exam. Several professors, members of the ruling party of the state have also mustered their support to them.
A glance at the past
The backlash against this coveted examination in Tamil Nadu is not new but rather dates back to the year 2012 during the regime of UPA government of which DMK was a part of. The central government launched it with an aim of creating a standardized basis of evaluation throughout the country to give admissions in various medical colleges. However the natives of the state & members of AIADMK have been against this idea since the very beginning. Mr. Thambidurai ,the then Deputy Chief Minister, even went on to say that “The state government will never accept NEET’’. The reasons cited for this mass opposition of the examination are several including :-
1) Favours the rich
According to many people the nature of the exam is discriminatory because the students need good coaching which provides regular study material, mock tests, test series etc. which are necessary to clear the exam and usually these coaching institutes cost a bomb. Now which student, the one coming from rich and affluent background or the one coming from low economic background has higher chances of clearing the exam? Ofcourse, the former one. Also 70% of students when they finish their PG course chose to work with private corporate hospitals which was not the case before the introduction of NEET. Earlier,70% of students chose to work with government hospitals.
2) Disadvantage to the rural area students
These huge and expensive coaching institutes whom we talked about in the point above will obviously be situated in urban locations only being easily accessible to the city students hence sidelining the students coming from rural and remote areas. Many of such rural students would not be able to travel such huge distances to attend the coaching lectures or classes and therefore facing a huge disadvantage over students coming from the urban or city locations.
3) Injustice to state’s children
Many members of the AIADMK party have asked the central government that when education is a state’s subject then why is the central government conducting a nation-wide level exam to give admissions in state universities? This serves a huge injustice to the state’s children.
4) The wrong parameters of evaluation
The pattern of the NEET examination requires the student to do hard work more than the smart work as they are supposed to cram the concepts and solved MCQs. This doesn’t test their ability to think critically and apply what they have studied. Then how could we rely on this exam to produce our future healthcare workers when the parameters themselves to evaluate are not correct?
5)Poor performance post admission
Dr. Jawahar Nesan who is a member of Justice AK Rajan committee formed by the government of T.N. to the socio economic impact of NEET has revealed that during second year onwards students who got admitted based on NEET exam perform poorer than those who got admission on plus two marks and the reason being is that the coaching centres do not impart the idea of practical thinking and analysis of concepts but rather seems to commercialize the education system. Hence post examination the students who have got admission on the basis of NEET emerge as low performers because of the lack of innovation in thinking and thus turning out to be poor medical professionals.
6) Commercialization of Education
Dr. Jawahar also said that this exam promotes the commercialization of education. He says according to data collected by the committee the yearly turnover of 400 odd private coaching centres in T.N. is minimum of Rs.6000 crores. On average, a student has to spend anywhere between 1.2 lakhs to 5 lakhs per year for coaching. Some top centres even charge 5,00,000 for a one month crash course.
A need for a level playing field
The central government must set up a committee to listen to the demands of students of Tamil Nadu and should deliver for them a satisfactory decision. Also the pattern of NEET examination must be evaluted to create a level playing field level for everyone so that noone goes through array of discrimination and the country could produce the best of health care workers.