The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government appears to have been caught in a bind over the conduct of NEET-JEE examinations after it conducted the KEAM (Kerala Engineering Architecture Medical) examination in July.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan along with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had stayed away from the online meeting of Chief Ministers of non-BJP States called by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday to oppose the examinations.
However, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had demanded that the examinations, National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for medical colleges and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE – Main) for engineering colleges in September, be postponed and asked the Centre to come up with an alternative proposal for selecting the students.
So far, Kerala government has not responded to the decision of the Ministry of Education to conduct the examinations in September. However, the Chief Minister’s Office is flooded with requests seeking his intervention for the postponement of the examinations in the wake of rise in COVID-19 cases.
Incidentally, the government had stuck to the KEAM schedule ignoring the calls from the Opposition parties and others to postpone the off-line examination held on July 16. Over one lakh students appeared for the examination held across 14 districts in line with the COVID-19 protocol.
Responding to a question at a news conference in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday, Mr. Vijayan, however, said the government did not take any decision in this regard.
Already several institutions, including the IIT Delhi, which is the organising institute for conducting the JEE (Advanced), have pointed out that postponing the examinations any further could have serious repercussions on the academic calendars. The National Testing Agency (NTA) officials have called upon the State governments to extend support in the local movement of the candidates so that they reach their examination centres on time.
The NTA, an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Education, will conduct the second JEE (Main) from September 1-9 and NEET on September 13. The first JEE (Main) was conducted in January and the second was scheduled in April. But the COVID-19 pandemic led to its postponement to July and then to September.
A total of 55, 815 students appeared for the first JEE (Main) at 43 centres in January. Now 45,047 students have registered for the upcoming September examinations to be held at 64 centres. At the all-India level, 10,66,450 registered for the January examinations and 9,54,473 for the September examinations.
“About 800 students from Kerala make it to the NITs and other institutes in the country. But fewer than 125 candidates secure admission to the IITs,” Sanjay Sharma, a dean with the coaching centre, said.
In the case of NEET, 1,15,959 have registered from Kerala to appear for the examinations at 322 centres this year. The previous year, the number was 1,17,714 at 218 centres.