Aspirants Cry for Postponement of NEET and JEE Exams

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Requests to find the alternative to make up the loss of academic days has been made through media and social media. The issue has been picked up by the political parties, student activists and also climate activist Greta Thunberg

Mohd Aasif | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Amid a steep increase in cases of coronavirus disease (covid-19) in the country, the Supreme Court of India dismissed a plea to postpone the entrance examinations any further through a video hearing earlier this week.

The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) and the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) (Main) are scheduled to be held in September.

According to an article published in DNA, 15,97,433 students have registered for NEET to be conducted on September 13, and 8,58,273 for JEE (Main) exams to be held in the first week of September.

“We find that there is absolutely no justification in the prayer made for postponement of the examination in question relating to NEET UG-2020 as well as JEE (Main) April 2020. In our opinion, though there is a pandemic situation, ultimately, life has to go on and the career of the students cannot be put on peril for long and a full academic year cannot be wasted,” said the apex court.

The aspirants across the country do not align with the court’s decision and want the postponement of the examination. Requests to find the alternative to make up the loss of academic days has been made through media and social media. The issue has been picked up by the political parties, student activists and also climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Thunberg tweeted, “It’s deeply unfair that students of India are asked to sit national exams during the covid-19 pandemic and while millions have also been impacted by the extreme floods. I stand with their call to #PostponeJEE_NEETinCOVID.”

Clarion India tried to reach some of the aspirants to understand their plight. Pragati Kaushal, a NEET aspirant who lives in Ashok Nagar district of Madhya Pradesh, told this correspondent that the distance between her examination centre and residence was 200 kilometres.

At a time when Indian Railways has shut its services and no other public transport is easily and directly available towards her test centre, Pragati faces a challenge to reach the examination spot. The only option is to hire a private vehicle which is not affordable for many.

During the monsoons when many states in the country witness floods, reaching the examination center during the pandemic-induced lockdown is a gigantic task in itself. Some of the students have to travel up to 500 km for their examination. Pragya Jha, who lives in Patna, says that she can manage as she can walk to the centre but what about those who live in the remote areas of the country?

At a press conference organised by the All India Students Association (AISA), an aspirant, Danish Khan (name changed) said that many aspirants were struggling with the floods in Bihar and other states.

Aspirants also fear the deadly virus. Nishat Fatima, a JEE aspirant, from Dhanbad (Jharkhand), wants the examination to be postponed believing that the decision of conducting the examination was nonsensical. Talking about the standard operating procedures, about which the education ministry has boasted a lot, Fatima wonders if the authorities would be able to manage the social distancing norms outside the crowded centres. “It might start a chain reaction even if 1 percent of the aspirants got infected”, she added.

The joint family system is still a phenomenon in India. Many aspirants living with their grandparents, who are most vulnerable to the virus, may put the elders’ lives at risk.

“God forbid if someone gets infected, who will be accountable for that?” wonders Fatima, adding that even ministers and VIPs maintain extreme safety and precautions and yet they are getting infected. “How can one guarantee that none will be infected during their travel to the examination centres?” she asks.

A number of students, who come from a humble background, could not prepare for their examination due to the lockdown which led to the closure of the libraries and study centres and reading halls. Apart from it, many suffered time loss due to their exposure to the virus. Such students might have prepared enough to sit for the examination.

A NEET aspirant from Bangalore told Clarion India that he and his entire family tested positive for covid-19. “My brother is quarantined. In this condition, I and my mom have to take care of both my grandparents and my dad”, he added.

Concerned over the performance of the aspirants, Gulnar, a family member of a JEE aspirant, believes that examination under such a situation will put aspirants under multifold pressure as they have to stay away from infections as well as worry about their performance during the examination. “I don’t think that students appearing for the examination will be able to give their one hundred percent”, said Gulnar.

Gulnar also expressed her apprehensions that conducting examinations under such circumstances might increase the suicide rate among students as the failure might bring depression to the aspirants.

The Government, Ministry of Education and National Testing Agency have not yet laid guidelines in case aspirants fails to attend the examination in the given circumstances.

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