NEET & JEE Exams: Interminable delays will blunt students’ preparedness

Even as the chorus continued to grow against the schedule of the Joint Entrance Examination- Main (JEE) and the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET-UG), the National Testing Agency (NTA) maintained that the tests will be held as per schedule with proper Covid-19 safety measures. While the JEE Main is scheduled from September 1-6, NEET is planned on September 13. Several opposition leaders in India, including Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik and DMK president M K Stalin have demanded the exams be postponed. The seven chief ministers of non-BJP ruled states on Wednesday even decided to jointly move the Supreme Court on the issue.
On the other hand, Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said that parents of several candidates reached out to the government requesting that the exams be conducted as per schedule. The Education Minister clarified that the JEE Main 2020 and NEET 2020 exam dates had been finalised after postponing them twice, adding that the Supreme Court had also said that full academic year couldn’t be wasted. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi Director V Ramgopal Rao has also supported Centre's decision to conduct NEET, JEE 2020 without any further postponement and said that any delay in conducting these entrance examinations can have serious repercussions on the academic calendar of the upcoming session and the career of bright students.
Moreover, Over 150 academicians from various universities in India and abroad have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that delaying the medical and engineering entrance exams -- JEE-Mains and NEET – any further will mean compromising the future of students. The National Testing Agency, which conducts both exams, has announced social distancing measures such as more testing centres, fewer students per room, more shifts for the JEE (main) computer test, and staggered entry and arrival.
NEET and JEE are the culmination of two years of intense study by higher secondary pass outs. Interminable delays blunt their preparedness.  Over 14 lakh admit cards for the NEET and JEE examinations were downloaded after the NTA released them on Wednesday. While the NEET is planned on September 13, engineering entrance exam JEE Main is scheduled from September 1-6. Around 9.53 lakh candidates have registered for JEE-Mains and 15.97 lakh students have registered for NEET. Authorities must amplify the reassuring messaging to students and parents that the safe conduct of the exams is in their interest.

- Prabhakar Purandare

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