The introduction of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) has been strongly opposed by Tamil Nadu’s political parties and sections of the state’s public. While students and their parents do seem to have somewhat accepted NEET since its introduction, the core argument against it still holds water.
This argument is that NEET, based as it is on a CBSE syllabus, is weighted against students of state government and aided schools who do not study that syllabus and who do not have the resources to access coaching classes. Given that NEET appears to be here to stay, the state government has attempted to improve school syllabus to better equip the students. It has also introduced free coaching classes for government and aided school students in every district.
However, as the results of NEET this year indicate, there is still a long way to go towards creating a level playing field. While 48.57% of TN students cleared NEET this year, only 14.5% of government and aided school students qualified. In this context, the state government’s decision to introduce a screening test for government and aided school students to avail of the free coaching has come as a blow to aspiring medicos from underprivileged families. Not only is the test to be conducted at seven days notice (on August 7), the intent is to only permit ‘serious’ students to partake in the coaching.
The government believes that this will improve the effectiveness of the coaching as it will weed out the less ‘competent’. Does the state believe that only those who can crack the test should benefit from extra educational support? If a student were able to clear a screening test with just seven days notice, how much of a difference is the government’s coaching likely to make in their NEET performance? Does the government, like many private schools, want to filter out the ‘performers’ from the ‘non-performers’ to improve its ‘results’ rather than ensure that every child has an equal chance? The children of Tamil Nadu, who attend the government-run and aided schools, deserve better.