CHENNAI: Like several others, S Archana, daughter of M Sakthivel and S Revathi, had been burning the midnight oil to crack the National Entrance cum Eligibility Test (NEET), for the past two years. The family's joy knew no bounds when Archana received her seat allotment order from Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Wednesday. The first 18 students allocated seats under the quota for government school students were NEET repeaters.
Sakthivel works as a load man and a fruit seller at Nagaiah Kottai in Dindigul. The family, like other daily wagers, struggled daily to make ends meet. To afford medical education for their children was a dream very distant to them. It was at this point that the State government introduced the 7.5 per cent reservation in medical courses for government school students, who cleared the NEET.
"I never thought I could afford a good education for my daughter, let alone in a government medical college. I don't know how happy I am today to know that she will one day, become a doctor," said Sakthivel, who broke down in tears on the stage.
His wife Revathi is in seventh heaven as the proud mother of a to-be doctor. A daily wager who gets a 100 days of work under the NREGA scheme, Revathi said, "My daughter had attempted the NEET last year, but couldn't get a medical seat. This year she secured 262 marks in NEET and got the seat only because of the quota." She had scored 389 marks in class 12 last year.
On Monday night, Archana received an SMS regarding the counselling schedule and the family quickly packed their bags to leave for Chennai. They reached here on Tuesday, and with no place to go and unable to afford lodging, spent the chilly night outside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the city.
"We used public toilets. But, all that doesn't matter now. We are very happy she got a seat at the Tiruchy Government Medical College, and are excited to return to our village," said Revathi.
Many first time NEET attempters too were happy about the allotment and felt lucky about not having to repeat the exam, thanks to the quota. RS Meghaa, from Tiruchengode in Namakkal, had scored 366 marks in NEET, and bagged a seat in the Coimbatore Government Medical College. She broke down as she thanked the Chief Minister. Her father, R Sadasivam, who is a TV mechanic, too had no words to express the family’s gratitude.
Another student, S Harikrishna, a first-attempter who hails from Poovalur in Tiruchy said, he had also benefited from the ‘freebies’ provided by the government.
"I secured 423 marks in NEET. The free laptop, cycle, books and also free coaching helped me secure it," said Harikrishna, who was allotted a seat in the Stanley Madras Medical College in Chennai. He had scored 515 in class 12 and had taken the government's free online NEET course. His father works in a provision store in Tiruchy.