NEET 2020: In a letter addressed to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Parents Association of India has listed 16 points to postpone the national-level medical entrance exam – NEET 2020, to be held on July 26, for which nearly 16 lakh students will appear. “This doesn’t affect the lives of only students, it will have a direct impact on the health and safety of the whole nation considering the nature of the Coronavirus,” read the letter.
Stating that students can act as a carrier of COVID-19, citing transport and health of those coming from containment zones, lack of online resources as key reasons, the association has appealed to the Ministry to hold the exam only when the COVID-19 peak in India reduces. It also asked the government to “frame guidelines to compensate for the loss and the mental anguish that the students have had to go through due to the pandemic, in terms of marks, giving more time for preparation and any other way the government finds suitable.”
Stating that on an average more than 15,000 cases are being reported daily and a total number of infected cases crossed over 4.90 lakh as on June 26, the letter notes, “The most important question to be asked is who will take responsibility if, God forbid, anything happens to any student.”
Anubha Sahai, from India Wide Parents Association, who undersigned the letter informed indianexpress.com that she wrote to the Ministry of HRD as well on receiving requests from students across India.
She said, “Not just NEET, the government should come up with uniform guidelines for all entrance exams for students across the country.”
Several other parents’ associations across India have also opposed the scheduled dates for the exam. Aparajita Gautam, from Delhi Parents Association said, “We are awaiting a response from the government. The HRD Minister has several times mentioned that the ministry will take steps according to the situation. They should now put an end to the uncertainty. The exams should not be held in July. For NEET, where the number of applicants is so high, even in the areas with less or no cases, allowing the congregation of so many students can be risky. I am a mother too and if my daughter had to appear for the exam, I would not have been comfortable. I understand and support parents’ demands and believe no exam should be allowed to be held until the graph of coronavirus cases comes down.”
The letter also cites examples where exams have been canceled or postponed, including CBSE and CISCE board exams, UPSC examinations, CTET, NCHM JEE, etc. The 16 reasons cited in the letter include students acting as carriers of the virus, practical impossibility of social distancing in exam centres, lockdown in many regions in the country, rising containment zones and students coming from these areas, transportation, students who have a positive case in the vicinity or family, lack of online preparation sources, and concerns expressed by several states on conducting exams, among others.
“NTA has also not given any instructions about the precautionary guidelines that have been planned. Moreover, even when guidelines are set, there is no guarantee that there would be no mismanagement. When both students and organisers are under pressure, the margin for human error is very high and right now we can’t afford even a small mistake,” the letter added.
However, not everyone is happy with the postponement. MS Chouhan, director, Vibrant Academy, Kota commented, “While students have prepared well, revised their topics and given mock tests during the extension, the thought of any further extension is disheartening for many as they are excited to start college. With several postponements being announced, the uncertainty in students’ minds only increases.”
While sources in the HRD ministry had informed The Indian Express that no final call has been made on competitive exams yet, there are chances that these might be postponed.