The year 2013 promises to be a milestone year for 18-year-old students in India. The HRD ministry in the centre is introducing common entrance examinations for engineering, science and medical undergraduate courses in the country that will save them the hassle of appearing and reappearing for multiple tests on multiple dates in different institutions and universities.
The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to medical colleges, and the Indian Science and Engineering Entrance Test (ISEET) will be based on the lines of the American model known as SAT which is the standardised test for admission to US colleges. It basically examines a student’s ability to comprehend, analyse, reason and solve problems without adopting meaningless rote methods.
Our present education system, especially at the school level, tests a child’s retention powers by forcing him to memorise without understanding what he is taught. The result of this teaching method can be disastrous when he enters the undergraduate and graduate levels where his reason, intelligence and comprehension are more important to succeed. These are the inputs that will be tested in exams like NEET and ISEET which will hopefully extend to disciplines like Law and others in the coming years.
These tests will not only reduce physical, psychological and financial stress on students and their parents, but they will hopefully end the ugly face of “tutorials” since the results of the Class XII exams will also be considered for admission to such undergraduate courses, in addition to a student’s higher secondary school record. According to this proposal, medical colleges affiliated to the Medical Council of India will admit students based on the new test scores.
Likewise, the scores will be accepted by all scientific institutions and technical ones recognised by the Government of India. This common entrance examination will, however, cover only centrally-funded institutions and deemed universities. We have 15 IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) 30 NITs (National Institutes of Technology) four IIITs (Indian Institutes of Information Technology) and five IISERs (Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research) in addition to a few deemed universities as well. Right now, high school leavers across the country take 150 different examinations to enter 15 lakh engineering colleges alone! Currently, each state also holds separate entrance tests for admissions to engineering courses, while the IITs and NITs have separate tests.
Similarly, there are multiple examinations for admissions into medical colleges held by the centre and states. As of now, there are some 17 entrance tests held to fill more than 30,000 seats in around 271 medical colleges. What a colossal waste of time, money and other resources. Physically, it is taxing for the student. Financially, a drain on resources for institutions, governments and individuals.
Now, with the introduction of NEET, there will be a single entrance examination for all these colleges offering MBBS courses. Basically this will cover all the medical colleges coming under the ambit of Medical Council of India (MCI). 138 of these colleges are run by governments while 133 come under private management. As for the ISEET (Indian Science/Engineering Eligibility Test) it will have an added advantage to students who will be qualified to study either pure sciences or engineering sciences, depending on their results.
The end of a twelve year school programme had become a nightmare for these young people, whose already confused minds have to grapple with the additional burden of preparing for tests ranging from engineering to medicine to law, to name a few. Most adolescents just passing out of school are still groping to find out their aptitudes and skills.
They do not know whether to become doctors or lawyers or architects or whatever. Their parents also blindly push them into what they feel will lead to a lucrative career in later life. In their perception, it has to be either an engineering or a medical degree. Their child may make a good lawyer, teacher or banker. He may have leanings towards art, theatre, music or dance. He may have mechanical or administrative skills. All these things do not matter to parents when it comes to choosing a course of study, or career.
This is the reason why we have engineering graduates forget their engineering skills and move on to a management school to get an MBA degree leading to a job selling things. Here are successful medical graduates who won gold medals and awards, now struggling to pass the IAS exam and to finally end up in some secretariat, examining files and attending bureaucratic meetings! This shows that many 18-year-old high school leavers do not know their own minds, aptitudes or skills.
They not only enter into the wrong career, but they also deprive other engineers or doctors to emerge by taking away their rightful career opportunities. In Karnataka alone, how many seats in engineering colleges go a-begging to be filled up every year. Where are all those candidates who emerged successful with breathtakingly high grades in the CET?
Whatever happened to all those rank holders and high achievers who should have filled up those empty seats in our medical colleges? Why are they writing ads for glossy magazines or managing finances in some corporate sector? Is it because their parents, teachers and peers tried to push them into careers for which they had neither the inclination nor the aptitude?
They may have realised later that it was all a mistake and changed courses midstream. But, at what cost? The tax payers’ money? Their own wasted efforts? Let us hope that in this new scheme proposed by the centre, such anomalies will end with our engineering, scientific and medical institutions filled with the right candidates with the right temperament to succeed in those fields.