The joint entrance examination (JEE) run by the National Testing Agency (NTA) starts on Tuesday and lasts until September 6th. Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank in exclusive interaction with Business line, said that non-execution or further delay of JEE and NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) -UG was not an option. Extracts.
Why is the center doing these exams even though there has been an increase in Covid-19 cases?
While we are facing a pandemic situation, any further delay in running these competitive exams would have resulted in a zero academic year, resulting in a huge loss. Even China ran its National College entrance exam, commonly known as Gaokao, to overcome fears of Covid-19.
The NTA was aware of the situation and the JEE exams have already been postponed from April 5th to 11th to July 18th to 23rd and will now take place between September 1st and 6th. The NEET exam has been postponed from May 3 to July 26 and will now take place on September 13, 2020.
Couldn’t the government have found a way to conduct exams without students having to worry about their health?
Covid-19 has posed an interesting challenge. This year the JEE of 8.58 lakh students and the NEET of 15.97 lakh students will be attempted through 660 centers for JEE and 3,842 centers for NEET. We have expanded the testing centers (there used to be 570 and 2,456 centers), taking into account social distancing norms and student safety.
The sensitivity of the research and the availability of time made it difficult to establish credible centers and computers. In the years to come, we will be able to improve digital infrastructure across the country and integrate technology more deeply into educational processes and outcomes.
Was the government also under pressure from coaching institutes wishing to hold NEET (UG), JEE (Mains) exams?
The government is concerned about the academic interest of the students. Failure to take the exam creates unsustainable situations, the effects of which are irreversible and harmful to students.
Recently, the NTA has put in place certain measures to ensure social distancing in exam centers. Do you think these measures will be enough?
The health and safety of students are of the utmost importance. The NTA ensures that appropriate measures are taken. In doing so, every stakeholder involved in the administration of the exams – General Secretaries of all States / Administrators of all UTs, DGPs, Health Secretaries of the States / UTs, DMs / DCs of the exam cities / districts, etc. – was taken on board prior to the conclusion of the decision and the Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs)
Taking the necessary precautions, the NTA has defined an SOP based on the recommendations of a high-level committee of medical experts and taking into account various government guidelines and guidelines issued from time to time. The thermal gun temperature check, non-contact checking of documents and checking the card card through a bar code reader are some practices / measures that have been added to the SOP. Isolation rooms are planned for Covid-19 suspects.
Detailed advice for examination officers and candidates has been published on the NTA website and can also be disseminated among candidates and the public.
In addition to the students, several states did not advocate taking NEET (UG), JEE (Mains) exams. How do you feel about it?
For the sake of the careers of the students and the aspirations of the parents, and to comply with the orders and observations of the Supreme Court. we should rise above political considerations.
Delaying the tests further was not a viable option as the next batch would be ready for these selection tests by then. The NTA carries out the examinations with due regard to the necessary health and safety measures.