CHENNAI: Students from Tamil-medium schools struggled to fare well in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) this year, data from government NEET coordinators show. The district-wise data, sourced by The New Indian Express, reveal that while some candidates scored above 108 (pass mark), only a handful got more than 200.
The data, from 18 districts, show that Tiruvallur was among the best-performing districts, with 14 students from Tamil-medium schools scoring above 200. But only six of them are freshers. Only five students from Virudhunagar scored above 200, compared with two from Kanniyakumari, six from Theni, eight from Pudukottai, and one from Sivaganga. Moreover, half these students are repeaters. The coordinators from Chennai and Chengalpattu are yet to release their data. Experts speculate the performance of such students from the said districts might be poor this year.
NEET adversely impacts poor students and those who studied in Tamil-medium schools, the AK Rajan Committee had highlighted in its report on the impact of NEET in Tamil Nadu, which was released in September this year. Though there were numerous contradictions when the report was released, the NEET-UG 2021 results yet again prove that Tamil-medium students are struggling to crack the entrance examiantion.
This is mainly attributed to the lack of study material in Tamil. Even in the capital city, tutors rue that there isn’t even one exclusive NEET coaching centre in Tamil. "While we could provide practice test papers to English-medium students daily, Tamil-medium students got them only twice a month. Even on the National Testing Agency (NTA) website, study material is available only in English and Hindi. The discrimination is glaring," said one of the coordinators on condition of anonymity.
He added that there is only one institution in Namakkal that provides NEET study material in Tamil. "But only those who can afford it can attend classes there. Even the little material we provided for students this year was from that institution. There is no pressure for the material from the government's side too," he said. Another co-ordinator added that while most districts didn’t have any Tamil-medium students who scored more than 200 marks, some had between three and five such students.
"They are repeaters who received training from these centres. It is almost impossible for students to crack the examination with the available study material," he said. Of the few Tamil-medium students who attempted NEET, even the academically bright ones struggled to clear it.
"We only depended on our textbooks. Even if we had access to English-medium test papers, they would have been, too, difficult to understand. I have now joined a college. It seems for Tamil students, becoming a doctor will remain a distant dream," said a student, C Mohana. She scored 560 out of 600 in Class 12, but only managed to secure 120 marks in NEET.
The State government formed the committee headed by Justice AK Rajan on June 10 and it was given a month to submit its report on the impact of NEET. The committee presented a 165-page report, which took into consideration suggestions from 86,342 people. One of the major findings was how the exam affects Tamil-medium students.
According to official data, the share of government school students studying MBBS has fallen from an average of 14.44 per cent before NEET was introduced, to a negligible 1.7 per cent in 2020-21. The AK Rajan Committee had highlighted that historical educational backwardness of Tamil-medium students, and their predominant rural location and socio-economic conditions, may be the causes for their overall educational performance.
But evidently, the NEET has punished them further for matters for which they are not responsible. However, proper educational intervention and provision of equitable educational inputs would enable and empower them to improve their educational performance.
PSC training centre
ARIYALUR: Backward Classes Welfare Minister SS Sivasankar on Sunday inaugurated a TNPSC training centre named after the late MBBS aspirant, Anitha, at Kuzhumur. The Anitha Memorial Foundation set up the centre to benefit youth forced to work in restaurants and as day labourers owing to a lack of jobs commensurate with their academic background.