Must hold JEE, NEET or will lose a year: Education Secy Amit Khare
JEE Main, NEET 2020: With the Centre under fire for pushing to conduct JEE (Main) and NEET next month, Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare told The Indian Express Wednesday that postponing these entrance tests till after Diwali would wash out an entire semester and affect fresh admissions over the next few years.
“The exams were first to be held in April, but were postponed to July. When a large number of students tweeted for further delay, they (exams) were pushed to September. Now, a section of students is demanding that the exams should be held after Diwali. After Diwali, the Chhatt festival will be celebrated in the eastern parts of the country on November 26. If we take a week after that to organise the exams, then we can only hold them in the first week of December, and the results would be announced in 2021. This means students risk losing the entire academic year,” Khare said.
“Secondly, a delay in the semester would not only affect the current batch but also the future batches. If 2021 admissions are delayed by a year, then you cannot have double the number of seats in 2021-22. Therefore, we want to start by November. Then, we can have shorter semesters with fewer holidays so that by August 2021 we are ready for the next batch. Otherwise, all subsequent batches will also be affected,” the top official said.
Over the last week, several chief ministers, political leaders and activists have joined students in demanding a further delay in conducting JEE (Main) and NEET.
On Tuesday, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal seeking a postponement given the rising number of Covid cases.
On Wednesday, Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar wrote to the Centre that conducting the exams amid a pandemic would put the students “at great risk of infection”.
Asked about the charge that the government is forcing youngsters to risk their health, Khare insisted that the decision was taken in the “overall interest” of students.
“First, these arguments have already been made before the Supreme Court, which eventually dismissed the plea. While some students have argued about the health risks, there are also others who are asking why they should risk their career. These students have taken a gap year and have been preparing for 18 months. What happens to them? One has to balance between those who want the exams and those who don’t, and more importantly consider the academic schedule. The overall interest has to be seen,” he said.
On getting the protesting states on board, Khare said, “We need their cooperation. We have already spoken to all the chief secretaries, and the Director-General of the National Testing Agency (NTA) has sent several communications to them and held several meetings with state representatives. I am hopeful that the exams, by and large, will be held. The average attendance for any exam is 90 per cent-odd. This is the same pattern that will be seen this year also.”
For centres falling in containment zones, the Secretary said the NTA will make alternate arrangements. Students living in containment zones can use their admit cards as a travel permit, he said.