NEW DELHI: Bringing relief to students of the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), the Centre has decided to revert a decision by the Medical Council of India (MCI) to prevent them from appearing in the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) this year.
Sources in the Union Ministry of Health And Family Welfare said a decision had been taken in favour of the students after the Ministry of Human Resource Development opposed the move. However, the official notification has not come yet.
“The HRD Ministry stressed in a meeting with the Health Ministry that the MCI order was against the government policy on equal learning and career opportunities for open school students. NIOS students are to be treated on a par with regular students,” a government source said.
In a communiqué to NIOS in December, the MCI had said students who cleared their Class XII board exams would not be allowed to appear in NEET—the entrance test for MBBS and BDS courses—as they do not have a practical component in their curriculum.
The MCI had also stated that the order would apply to students attached with state open schools as well.
“There were three points on which the decision was taken—stream, curriculum and duration of the course vis-a-vis regular students. Since the NIOS syllabus does not have a practical component, there is no matchability with regular students,” an official in the undergraduate section of the MCI said. “NIOS students have been enjoying the privilege (in context of NEET), but we thought it was not justified, so we came up with the order this year.”
An HRD Ministry official, however, said that the reason given by the MCI could not be the basis to deny NIOS students an opportunity to appear for pre-medical tests.
“On many occasions, when students fail the Class XII boards or get a compartmental in one or more subjects, they choose open school to clear their boards. It won’t be justified if they are denied the opportunity to take the NEET,” the official said.
According to government estimates, about 2 lakh students enrol with the NIOS every year and over 3,000 had appeared for the NEET last year.