The All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Monday opposed centralised entrance tests for medical and engineering courses, demanding that the State governments be allowed to determine admissions.
Raising the issue during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha, AIADMK MP and Deputy Speaker M. Thambi Durai said a National Testing Agency holding such tests twice a year would only end up making students prepare just for the entrance test without bothering about studying Classes 11 and 12 syllabi properly.
“Education was a State subject and then an amendment was done to the Constitution putting it on the Concurrent List. This is what has led to this state of affairs, where the original ideas of mother tongue being the primary medium of education are being overlooked. Such joint or combined tests only help the well-off get through. There is a genuine shortage of doctors in rural areas because the State governments are not allowed to hold tests,” he said.
“My party opposes the NEET [National Eligibility cum Entrance Test] and the new National Testing Agency,” he said, with several MPs across party lines thumping their desks in support.
Responding to the question, Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said a total of 24 lakh students took the Joint Entrance Examination and the NEET, whereas the CBSE Class 12 exams had nearly two crore candidates. The State governments hold other tests, and nearly 1.5 crore students appeared in those.
Referring to concerns over the translation of questions from English to the local language, with several legal challenges to the question paper for the NEET in the High Court, Mr. Javadekar said not only would the State government be made to prepare the translations but these would also be validated. The Union government would secure an undertaking from the Tamil Nadu government about the correctness of the translation.
Responding to a supplementary, he said the entrance tests to be held by the National Testing Agency would not be “online” but only “computer-based”, with students clicking the answer on downloaded answer sheets. He said the government was also considering allowing students to take the test on paper during the transitional first year.
Several members, including Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress, raised the issue of according the Institute of Eminence status to Jio Institute, which is yet to be set up.
Mr. Javadekar said only a letter of intent had been provided with the proviso of suitable progress in constructing the university in the next three years. “As many as 114 applications were received, including 40 from the private sector, for being considered Institutions of Eminence. Out of the 40 private sector applications, 11 were in the greenfield sector. This institution has been recommended and approved by the Empowered Expert Committee and the University Grants Commission, based on its 15-year strategic vision,” he said.