CHENNAI: Not all medical aspirants from government schools will be able to access the free coaching offered by the State for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) any longer. Only students who clear a screening test that will be conducted on August 7 will be eligible, a circular from the School Education Department, issued on July 31, said. Experts have sharply criticised the government for conducting the test with such short notice.
The Director of School Education S Kannappan told Express that the screening test was being introduced to increase the efficiency of training as many students who were not “competent enough will join the course only to discontinue it within a few weeks”. He said more students who were interested in pursuing medicine would be able to get effective training if the total number of students in every centre was reduced.
“Every centre can take in up to 50 students. Many students who score really poor marks sign up for coaching. A lot of manpower and time is spent on them. However, if we only have interested students, teachers will also be motivated to teach them,” he said. Students who clear the screening test will receive free coaching during the weekends in addition to short tests, said Kannappan.
Students from this lot, who perform well, will be selected to undergo an intensive two-month training programme at the end, he said. While introduction of NEET created furore in the State, this decision too has been met with criticism. “A free coaching offered by the government should benefit as many children as possible as it is aspirational and gives them hope,” said D Anandakrishnan, educationalist and former Vice-Chancellor of Anna University.
‘It puts onus of clearing test on student alone’
“The government is not going to see a significant improvement by restricting access to it. Further, students need preparation time for any test. Having one at such short notice will leave them confused,” Anandakrishnan said. PK Ilamaran, president of Tamil Nadu Government School Teachers Association, said students were not prepared for a screening test at this point. “Most students who come to government schools have a difficult background. Many of them are still enrolling into schools. Getting eliminated at such an early point in the year will leave even late-bloomers demotivated,” he said. Further, the move puts the onus of clearing NEET on the student alone.
The School Education department will soon start holding ‘small-level’ tests every Friday for students who take part in the government-run coaching classes for NEET and JEE.