NEW DELHI: A government decision to bar students of open schools from the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test this year has triggered protests in various cities across the country and has also led to affected medical aspirants join hands to challenge the changed rule in the Supreme Court.
Medical education regulator, Medical Council of India, had a few months back ruled that students who pass out class XII from open school boards—including the National Institute of Open School-- will not be permitted to take NEET from 2018 as the syllabi of these boards don’t include practicals in science subjects.
The Union human resources development minister Prakash Javadekar, in a meeting with the Union minister for health and family welfare J P Nadda last month, however, had urged that the MCI decision be reversed in the interest of thousands of students who are at a loss due to the new MCI diktat.
The health ministry had subsequently shot a letter to the MCI to reconsider its stand—but the NEET notification, put out by examination conducting body Central Board of Secondary Education on February 8 –mentions the changed rule.
“In the notification, we have gone ahead with the MCI rule as we are just responsible for carrying out the test and rules are entirely framed by the MCI,” a CBSE official said.
A senior office bearer in the MCI confirmed that it had received a communication from the health ministry, but the issue of reconsideration will be taken up only in an executive committee meeting in March.
The delay and the indifference on the part of various government bodies, on the other hand has left several students anxious and angry as they have hit the streets to protest the “injustice” being done to aspirants belonging to open school boards. One such protest was held in New Delhi on Monday.
“Due to poor financial condition of my family I could not pursue plus two through a regular board but will that mean that I be penalised? This is a senseless and arbitrary decision on the part of MCI and we will seek to abolish it legally,” said Rakhshanda Surana, an NIOS student who, along with many others, is planning to go to the apex court over the matter.
As per CBSE data, 1,412 students of seven open school boards—including NIOS—had qualified in NEET last year.
“This clearly means that performance from open schools has been remarkable in NEET and there is no fair logic by which the students of recognised boards can be barred from a test that is the only gateway for a career in various fields of medicine,” an NIOS official said.