Amid a huge row over examinations amid the coronavirus pandemic, Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal today said 7.5 lakh of 8.58 lakh candidates for Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) and over 10 lakh of 15.97 lakh candidates for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) have downloaded admit cards, which indicates that the students want “exams at any cost”.
The minister said maximum students and parents have conveyed through mails and other mediums that they are in favour to hold the all-India entrance exams for engineering and medical courses that have already been postponed twice.
“National Testing Agency Director General told me that 7.5 lakhs out of 8.58 lakhs candidates in JEE have downloaded admit cards. For NEET, over 10 lakhs out of 15.97 lakhs candidates downloaded admit cards in 24 hrs. It shows that students want that exams are held at any cost,” Mr Pokhriyal said.
Allaying fears of the students’ safety, the minister said the National Testing Agency, which is tasked by the central government with conducting entrance exams for higher educational institutions, has prepared proper guidelines and SOPs and is also holding frequent meetings with the states for better coordination.
“JEE exam centres have been increased to 660 from 570 while there are now 3,842 NEET centres, up from 2,546 for the convenience of students. Students have also been allotted exam centres of their choice,” the minister said.
The National Test Agency says if the entrance exams are postponed further, they will put students of government colleges at a disadvantage as against private college students who do not need to appear for competitive exams and have already started an online module.
Last week the Supreme Court dismissed a petition to defer these exams. The top court declared that “careers of students could not be put in jeopardy”.
Tomorrow, the Congress plans to hold country-wide protests against the decision to go ahead with the exams. The decision to protest was announced on Wednesday night, a day after an online meeting of chief ministers of opposition-ruled states on the subject.
There is no need for protests or politics on it, Mr Pokhriyal added.