NEET and JEE – India’s entrance exams for admission to medical and engineering colleges have divided the student community in the country, and most are demanding the government postpone them due to health risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic and floods in several parts of the nation.
In India, a high school graduate must pass nationwide exams to be eligible to enter a medical or engineering college for higher education.
At least 2 million students in the country will take part in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for Engineering Colleges and the National Entrance Examination Examination (NEET) for Medical. Exams are scheduled for next month.
Students, however, are required to postpone exams until the situation in the country improves.
“I am ready for the exams,” 19-year-old Kumar Indranand from the flood-hit state of Bihar told Anadolu. He, however, explained why students like him do not want exams to be held next month.
“Everyone is worried, there is fear regarding the spread of COVID-19. There is no guarantee that I will get to the examination center [180 kilometers or 111 miles away] and then return home without being infected. ”
Kumar said the government should wait a while before the exam is held. “The number of COVID-19s is growing,” he said, adding: “It is better to wait for the safety of students across the country.”
21-year-old Gavrov Mishra, another contender for the medical examination, said the exams should be conducted in a timely manner, “if the government ensures the safety of all who come to the exam.”
“They need to remember about student safety,” he added.
Mishra downloaded an official exam ad card stating that his examination center is 130 kilometers (80 miles) from his home in Bihar. “I will take the exam because there is no option left,” he said.
– “Hunger strike to postpone exams”
On Sunday, 4,000 students went on a daily hunger strike to insist on their demand to postpone exams.
Rakesh Sharma of the Rajasthan Learning Center, which prepares students for competitive exams, said parents are also worried for several reasons.
“The first problem is accessibility. If there is no public transport and trains, how will the student get to the exam site in time? Also, what is the guarantee that the student is not infected? ” He said, adding: “Neither parent wants to risk their children’s lives.”
Sharma also said the government should wait a few months. “If the government has decided to hold exams now, then they should take extra precautions for students.”
Politicians of various parties in the country supported the demand to postpone the exams.
The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamta Banerjee, said: “It is our duty to provide a safe environment for all our students.” Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, leader of the Indian National Congress in the lower house of parliament, also called for the postponement of exams, while several other politicians demanded the same.
Young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg also expressed her support: “It is very unfair that Indian students are being asked to take national exams during the COVID-19 pandemic and while millions of people have also been affected by the floods. I support their call for #PostponeJEE_NEETinCOVID, ”she tweeted.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter that the government must find an acceptable solution. “They are really concerned: – the fear of infecting Covid-19 – transport and housing during the pandemic – the floods in Assam and Bihar. The GOI must listen to all stakeholders and find an acceptable solution. #AntiStudentModiGovt, ”he wrote on Twitter.
As his party staged protests across the country on Friday against a government move, members of the youth wing went on a hunger strike to protest the exams.
Experts and scholars in the country stress that the government should play a key role if they take the exams next month. More than 100 academics from India and abroad have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in support of rescheduling exams.
“The government must also make sure that the examination centers have the right conditions,” said Anikat Kumar, a scientist who also runs the examination center in Bihar, the Anadolu Agency.
“These exams have been postponed twice before, and if we continue to postpone again, the exams will never take place because no one knows when COVID-19 will end.”
Sunita Gandhi, an educator from India, said she did not see that the situation with COVID-19 would change quickly in the country. “So I would say that the exams should be held on schedule,” she said.
– Demand for students
In a press release issued Tuesday, the National Testing Agency announced that the exams would take place in the first half of September, adding: “The Supreme Court has also ruled, among other things, that we believe there is absolutely no excuse in prayer (application) on the postponement of the examination of the NEET UG-2020 exam, as well as the JEE (main) April 2020 ”, referring to a recent order of the Supreme Court of India, which rejected the students’ request to postpone the exams.
It also noted that the number of examination centers increased from 570 to 660 for JEE and from 2546 to 3843 for NEET.
Education Minister Ramesh Pohrial Nishank in an interview with government television Doordarshan defended the government’s move to conduct exams across the country.
“We were constantly pressured by parents and students who asked why we didn’t postpone JEE and NEET,” he said.
Of the 858,000 students who registered for JEE, 725,000 candidates downloaded their exam tickets.
“We are with students. Their safety comes first, then their education, ”Nishank added.
Director General of the National Testing Agency Vinit Joshi also said in an interview with Doordarshan that the government has taken all measures to conduct the exams.
“We can’t waste more time worrying about natural disasters such as floods. No one can predict anything. We can work on maintaining the training calendar. This is good for students, ”he was quoted as saying in a report published by the local TV company News18.
Experts say there should be no overcrowding of centers on exam days as part of measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“The decision to conduct JEE-NEET exams with security measures is a welcome step as students may lose one year. However, all safety procedures must be followed strictly, for example, a physical distance of 1.5 meters [4.92 feet]sanitation and limiting the crowd near the center, ”Suman Mor, a lecturer at the University of Punjab in northern India, told the Anadolu Agency.
In the last 24 hours, India’s Ministry of Health has reported more than 75,000 new cases and 1,021 additional deaths nationwide. More than 3.46 million infections have been reported in the country, including more than 2.64 million cured and at least 62,550 deaths.