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The NEET Issue
Aug 08, 2017

[GS Paper II:(Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)]

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is a common entrance test, conducted by Central Board of Secondary Education for admission to public and private undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) medical and dental colleges in India. 

Why in News?

  • The Madras High court struck down the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to reserve 85% seats for Tamil Nadu state education board students and leave 15% for the rest of the boards. 

Background

  • Tamil Nadu has abolished qualifying exams for professional courses since 2006, relying instead on a ranking based on aggregate marks in relevant subjects in the 12th board examination.
  • The state government had argued that NEET would be disturbing for students, as it would be based on CBSE syllabus which is different from the one taught in schools under the state board.
  • Tamil Nadu also raised concerns that students from rural areas and under-privileged backgrounds would find NEET more difficult as compared to urban students, especially those from the CBSE board.
  • In 2016 Tamil Nadu passed two Bills seeking exemption from NEET at both the UG and PG level. The legislations are still awaiting the Presidential assent. 

NEET

  • NEET was introduced by the Medical Council of India in 2010 through amendments to existing regulations relating to medical and dental admissions.
  • The main aim was saving students the trouble of writing multiple entrance examinations to medical courses in State-run and private institutions.
  • It was introduced to curb the increasing commercialization of higher education in medicine. 
  • It would also thought to ensure a transparent admission process in private, unaided institutions.
  • It was conceived as a means of raising the quality of students being admitted to medical and dental colleges and thereby graduates.
  • The Supreme Court in 2016 ruled that NEET marks be the sole basis for admission, reversing its 2013 judgement that had struck down regulations introducing NEET.

Way forward

  • As emphasized by the Madras High Court, the state boards need to upgrade their education system and meet the academic standards needed in competitive examinations.
  • Tamil Nadu should rework its school curriculum and teaching methods to get State board students NEET-ready by next year. 
  • There is an inevitable conflict between the need for a fair and transparent admission system to curb rampant commercialization of medical education and the socioeconomic goals of the State, which is worried about producing enough committed doctors ready to serve in rural areas.


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