IITs to release 50 years’ solved JEE question papers to combat Kota coaching

IITs, HRD ministry have also decided to prepare questions for JEE exams keeping in mind the Class 12 syllabus to reduce the difficulty level


A file photo of IIT Kharagpur. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
A file photo of IIT Kharagpur. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

The central government and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have jointly decided to release solved question papers of all joint entrance examinations (JEE) held in the last 50 years, Union human resources development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani said. The move is aimed at helping students and reducing the influence of the coaching industry.

The papers will be released through an app and a portal.

The IIT-JEE has long been India’s most iconic and also its most difficult entrance examination.

The IITs and the HRD ministry have also decided to prepare questions for JEE exams keeping in mind the Class XII syllabus to reduce the difficulty level of the JEE, the minister said.

The ministry has also asked IITs to help aspirants with video and audio lectures.

Irani said many people have complained about the menace of the coaching industry. “The question is, what can we do”? The answer, she added, was to provide 50 years of question papers. This will happen in the next two months, Irani said.

The ministry’s move follows a spate of suicides in Kota, a Rajasthan town often called the coaching capital of India. At least half-a-dozen students have committed suicide in Kota this year, the latest one being on 28 April.

India’s coaching industry was worth Rs.40,000 crore in 2011 as per a report by rating agency Crisil. Though its current size is not available, industry insiders peg it in excess of Rs.50,000 crore.

The IITs are India’s most elite engineering schools.

The entrance examination is tough, and requires more than just proficiency with the Class XII syllabus.

That prompts students to take up coaching classes, Irani explained. To address that, “for the first time, the government, in conjunction with the IIT Council, will ensure that the question papers (of JEE) conform to Standard XII syllabus”.

“If degree-level questions are asked, we cannot expect a school student to answer,” the minister added. She said the present system was encouraging students of various school boards to go to places such as Kota “to get that knowledge”.

Irani said that recognizing the language challenge of students in different parts of the country, her ministry has asked the IITs to make all study material available in 13 languages.

In 2012, the IITs for the first time uploaded JEE answer sheets for a “brief period of time” before the final rankings were prepared. In August 2011, the Supreme Court had ruled that examination answer sheets must be made public under the Right to Information Act.

“I don’t think coaching industry is a menace,” said Satya Narayanan R., executive chairman of CL Educate (formerly Career Launcher) which runs a chain of coaching institutes.

“The aim of coaching centres and government is one—to benefit students. Opening up the JEE papers is a good move and shall benefit students. But the question is why students are going for coaching. The answer is, the formal education system has gaps which have not been plugged for decades,” he added.

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