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Amid political opposition, academicians, institutions for conducting JEE-NEET

Indian households are not only willing to spend more on education, a near-universalization of primary schooling has helped reduce illiteracy significantly. Photo: HT Premium
Indian households are not only willing to spend more on education, a near-universalization of primary schooling has helped reduce illiteracy significantly. Photo: HT

  • In the four to five months of teaching and learning in 2021, it will be tough to catch up an entire year's exercise for practical oriented courses such as medical and engineering. This could create a learning backlog

NEW DELHI: Even as political opposition grows, academicians and institutions including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have come out in support of conducting the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) scheduled for September without which, they argue, it would be a zero academic year.

Academicians said while the pandemic may stay here for some time, careers cannot wait aAnd compromising entrance tests and diluting admission process will have a deeper impact on quality of teaching-learning environment and undermine top medical and engineering institutions quality.

They also said the current academic year has already got delayed and while existing batches have started new semester online, in the absence of fresh admissions new academic year may get pushed to 2021.

In the four to five months of teaching and learning in 2021, it will be tough to catch up an entire year's exercise for practical oriented courses such as medical and engineering. This could create a learning backlog.

"The pandemic has already disrupted the academic plans of many students and institutions and we don’t see the pandemic going away anytime soon. We should not let this be a zero academic year as it might have consequences on the bright future of several students," said Ajit Chaturvedi, director, IIT Roorkee.

"Conducting JEE and NEET is critical, without which admissions cannot be held in institutions like IITs and top medical colleges. I understand the apprehensions but would encourage the aspirants to take it as an opportunity to adapt to the new normal and strive for a brighter future...Also, it could be misused as a precedent to dilute the entire admission process to the IIT system which may prove to be harmful for the quality of undergraduate education at the IITs," IIT Kharagpur director V.K. Tewari said in a social media post.

A group of over 120 academicians including vice chancellors of a few universities have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in support of conducting the joint entrance exam (JEE) and the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).

"Youths and students are the future of the nation, but in the wake of covid-19 pandemic clouds of uncertainty have gathered over their careers too. There are a lot of apprehensions about admissions and classes, which needs to be resolved at the earliest. The dreams and career of our students cannot be compromised at any cost," the academicians wrote in the letter to the PM supporting the JEE-NEET.

In the letter, a copy of which has been reviewed by Mint, the academicians also took a potshot at those who are opposing it, by attributing political the protest to a political agenda. "However, some are trying to play with the future of our students simply to propel their political agenda and oppose the government," said the letter.

To be sure, some of the academicians who have written supporting JEE-NEET don’t admit students on the basis of JEE or NEET in their own institutions. For example, the first signatory of the letter is C.B. Sharma, a professor of Indira Gandhi National Open University. And as per UGC guidelines, IGNOU is not permitted to offer engineering or medical degrees on open and distance mode.

Congress and other opposition party ruled states like Punjab, West Bengal, Delhi, Odisha and Maharashtra have been expressing their apprehension over the entrances. However, some academicians believe that looking at the covid--19 situation and the uncertainty over it, it is better to conduct the exams.

"Covid can stay, careers can't wait," said IIT Delhi director V. Ramgopal Rao. "As the JEE Advanced organising Institute, I assure every one that IITs will do their best and put their best foot forward in organising the JEE Advanced examination. We will also be closely monitoring the situation and take necessary steps as necessary," Rao said.

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