Published: 21st July 2019
Only asked questions as a concerned citizen: Why Suriya stands his ground against NEET, NEP
Suriya said that after NEET was imposed, not even a single government school student associated with Agaram had managed to get into medical college.
After being criticised for his speech on the new education policy, actor Suriya released a statement elaborating on his stance. Suriya spoke about his NGO, Agaram and how his association to with its volunteers had helped him understand the state of education and students in the state which is why he said what he had said.
"To prove that education in India is different for the rich and the poor, statistics are not required, asking one's conscious is enough. It is that conscious that tells me that the government should be more focused on providing equal and quality education for every child instead of creating the same standard of tests for them," Suriya said in his statement. He goes on to state that until today, about 3000 students have done their higher studies through Agaram Foundation of which 1,169 are engineers, 1,234 studied Arts and Sciences, 54 became doctors and 285 got into paramedical sciences.
"Ninty percent of the students are first-generation learners. Every year, hundreds of Agaram's volunteers go to our villages and study the family and education situations of students and hearing those experiences has brought tears to my eyes," the NGK actor said in his statement.
He also gave examples of students he had met who had successfully gotten MBBS seats and become doctors, something that might not have happened if NEET the rule then. "Having lost her parents and with education being her only way out, a girl who had gotten great marks was stuck because she didn't have enough money to buy an application form. Today, she has finished studying Medicine and is working as an army doctor. The son of a shepherd got into Stanley Medical College in Chennai, completed his MBBS and opted to serve people in the villages. If NEET had been mandatory then, they would never have become doctors," Suriya said.
Talking about the negative impact of NEET and how it had put lakhs of futures in jeopardy, Suriya said that since NEET was imposed, not a single student association with Agaram had managed to get a medical seat. "Students from government schools who went on to become doctors are doing very well. But after NEET was imposed, not even a single government school student associated with Agaram has managed to get into medical college. In the new Education Policy, the suggestion that all graduate courses should have entrance exams is frightening. Entrance exams will wipe out village students from the higher education system," he states.
Urging the public to sit up and pay attention to the National Draft Policy and its implications, Suriya said that this was a matter of our children's future, "For students who live in houses where they've never had electricity, the abject poverty that they manage to overcome has shocked me. I am deeply concerned that we are not paying enough attention to the draft. I wanted everyone to have a say in this policy that will determine all those children's lives."
In response to all the critics who are targeting that fact that he knows nothing about the education system, Suriya said that he posed those questions just as a concerned citizen, "I am grateful that when people asked what qualification I have to speak about education, there were lots of groups, people, political parties who stood by me. For that I'm thankful. I am putting my questions forward as a citizen who understands the state of thousands of students who have been denied equal opportunities and quality education.
"I hope and believe that the Central Government will listen to the opinions and suggestions of people across the spectrum, and will make the changes that are really necessary. Education gives poor students wings to fly. Let us all stand together to ensure those wings don't break," the actor said.