NEET issue: ‘Government opening coaching centers is the need of the hour’

Tamil Nadu government inaugurates coaching centers and study material to help State Board students. Image Courtesy: Indian Express
Chennai, November 17: The government opening up coaching centers to help students prepare for the National Entrance cum Eligibility Test (NEET) was “the need of the hour, to prevent further stress,” according to a senior official from the Tamil Nadu Education department.
However the Government’s decision should not be seen as an acceptance of NEET by the State, he added.
CM Edappadi K Palaniswami distributes question bank volume. Image Courtesy: Times of India.

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, on Monday, inaugurated a project to help higher secondary school students prepare for competitive exams, including NEET.

Through this project, the State, which was so far protesting against the central exam, will open 412 training centers (one for each panchayat union) for government school students. Twenty five of these centers have already started functioning in Gobichettipalayam, Namakkal, Edappadi and Uthangarai.

However some see the Government’s decision as a ploy to keep people quiet. Earlier this year violent protests erupted across the state with the protesters claiming that NEET would help only students who studied under the CBSE syllabus.

“These coaching centres are a temporary measure to calm the people. The State government has a lot of issues with the Centre right now including the IT raids… certain people are being targeted. Student communities all over are protesting BJP’s authoritarian policies,” says Illayaraja Shan, leader of Tamil Nadu Maanavar Munnani.

“In October, 50 students committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. There is a war-like situation brewing all over India…” says Shan.

On 1 September,  S Anitha, a State Board student who had secured a score of 1176 on 1200 in her 12th standard State Board exams but 86 on 720 in NEET-UG 2017, took her life, sparking State-wide protests against NEET. The scale of the protests led the Supreme Court of India to order the Tamil Nadu government to control it.

Dinesh, the manager of the Thiruvanmiyur branch of coaching centre Apollo Academy, wanted the government to be clearer about its stance on NEET. “Anitha was given false hope by the State. She believed that she would get a seat…people were confident that NEET would be cancelled so no preparation was done. Hence that one year exemption we got was not enough,” he said.

“Anitha was given false hope by the State…” said Dinesh, manager at Apollo Academy, referring to the State Board student who committed suicide because she could not pass NEET and get a MBBS seat
Students are given three attempts to pass. Before NEET, the student could write State exams as well as the Central exam in the same year and either score would get him a seat in a government college. This meant two chances were given in the same year. But now they have to wait an entire year to appear for the exam if they fail.
Dinesh says: “[Students] have to do five years MBBS, and then further specialization. They cannot afford to spend three years cracking the test. There have to be more opportunities to appear in the same year.”

Meanwhile, even students who attend coaching classes that are not government aided are finding it difficult to cope. M Varsha, who has taken a break year to study for NEET attends class from 10 am to 5.00 pm. She says “My school only focused on taking mock competitive-tests so I don’t have any idea about the 11th and 12th syllabus.”
Another student, Praveena Ramesh, who is completing her 11th standard from Shankara Vidyashram, has been studying for NEET for the past four months. Her school has collaborated with Ladder Institute to organize coaching classes after regular classes. “I have my board exams tuition, upcoming internals and NEET to study for now. Since NEET is completely different from the State Board syllabus, I have to put in more effort,” she said.
“I have no confidence…I think all this is a waste of money,” said Praveena.
Apparently the fee for coaching for NEET is expensive.

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