BENGALURU: With examinations for senior students at the centre of debates across the country and Karnataka already conducting exams for both younger and senior grades, Deputy Chief Minister Dr C N Ashwath Narayan, who is also the Higher Education Minister, reasons why NEET and JEE should not be postponed, and degree classes should start offline from October 1. Excerpts:
Why should JEE-NEET not be postponed?
Any further delay in conducting them would mean an inordinate delay of the academic year for engineering and medical colleges. It would effectively mean twice the number of students competing for the same seats next year, along with a year-long disruption in hiring by healthcare and engineering companies. The country’s development heavily relies on the educational advancement and prosperity of our children and these exams directly impact that. I would like to advise all those seeking postponement that they should not play with the future of our children. I suspect something fishy; maybe certain invisible groups want seats allocated through an ‘opaque system’, rather than on merit.
How are you going to convince parents and teachers, considering the Covid scare?
I would like to cite the example of Karnataka-Common Entrance Test (K-CET) which we conducted on July 30-31 when Covid-19 cases were spurting in the state. It was a success story which proves that JEE and NEET too can be conducted in a similar manner without exposing our students to harm.
What are the steps the government is taking to conduct JEE and NEET in September?
Arrangements made for K-CET will be used for JEE-NEET as well. There is no need to be scared of Covid. Stringent standard operating procedure and guidelines by the health department and UGC will be adhered to. With proper planning, coordination and precaution, CET was conducted, which saw about 1.75 lakh students. We even allowed 63 Covid-positive students to appear. I visited a few of these students at the GKVK Covid Care Centre and I was amazed by their spirit.
Just days after NEET and JEE, degree students will come for offline classes.
We have decided to set the ball rolling on all academic activities from next month as we need to conduct a few degree exams in September. We are awaiting detailed guidelines from the Centre, and have made preparations as per UGC guidelines.
What was the thought behind deciding the date for degree classes?
The reason for deciding October 1 is twofold: The end-semester and backlog exams for final-year students would be over by then and institutions would have adequate time to prepare for offline classes. The health department- issued SOP will be followed and we are also waiting for UGC guidelines.
Hundreds of hostels are being used as Covid Care Centres (CCCs). How do you plan to make students use these hostels again?
We have the BIEC Covid Care Centre which can house 5,000 patients and every district too has CCCs. Before starting classes, new patients will be sent to other facilities, and hostels will be fumigated and sanitised before allowing students in.
There is panic among parents and students over Covid cases.
Parents and students should move ahead, but follow Covid norms. The teaching and administrative staff will be in touch with them. It is natural for parents and students to have some fear. The pandemic will not go away in the next few months as a vaccine is at least a year away.
Is the government forming a special SOP for final semester exams?
We already have the K-CET SOP and it will be followed for these exams too. Covid-positive students will be allowed to appear in separate rooms at district Covid Care Centres.