Published: 25th August 2020
I am not scared of COVID: Why a large section of students do NOT want NEET, JEE to be postponed
While a majority of students are seeking the postponement of JEE, NEET and CLAT, a group is opposing the same
While the National Testing Agency is gearing up to conduct NEET and JEE, the most sought after entrance exams in the country, a large number of students across the country have raised their voice against it, citing the upward COVID curve in the country.
However, the fact of the matter is that they do not represent all the students in the country. A proportion of students and their parents who were happy with the Supreme Court's decision are extremely "thankful" and are asking the authorities to not postpone these entrance exams any further. While the exams were originally supposed to be held in May, they were pushed first to July and then to September, owing to the pandemic. These students tell us that at this point they want to get done with the entrances.
This constant lack of ease about when the exam will be held is even more unsettling than the fear of COVID for these students, "An infinite postponement is putting us under so much stress. If we declare 2020 a zero year, there will be more candidates next year. This will take away our chance of getting a seat," says a JEE aspirant who does not want to be named. When asked if she is worried about contracting the virus, she says, "It is the responsibility of citizens to follow COVID guidelines laid down by the government. COVID is airborne, but that doesn't mean that we must stop breathing. We can't put our future at stake, since we do not know when the pandemic will end," she says, echoing what the Supreme Court bench that dismissed the plea said. "Life has to go on. Life has to move ahead. Precious year of students cannot be wasted," the bench has said on August 17.
This is particularly hard on students who have dropped one (or even two) years to prepare for NEET, with the hope of landing that elusive medical seat. While the stress of waiting for the exam has taken its toll on some, many students have even thrown in the towel. According to the administrator of a popular coaching centre for JEE and NEET in Chennai, at least 30 per cent of his students appear to have lost their drive while about 10-15% have dropped out of the classes because they have lost interest. "There is only so much delay students can take. As the chance of getting a medical seat becomes slimmer and slimmer, some of them just gave up and settled for things like a BSc Zoology course," he explains.
While India has the third-highest number of COVID cases in the world, Adreet Hazarika, a CLAT aspirant from Guwahati argues that the rate of COVID spread in the country is still "quite low" while emphasising that he is not scared of contracting COVID. "India is not recording many deaths. India doesn't have many COVID cases compared to the population. Also, I am young and the chances of my recovering from the virus are very high," he says confidently. He says that JEE is done in a phased manner and chances of students getting infected by it are low.
"Previously, a COVID peak was predicted in July, then in September and then in November. What if numbers keep on rising beyond that? We can't waste our future," he says. While the CLAT entrance is supposed to be held on September 7, he is now scared that the Consortium of NLUs may postpone the entrance, owing to popular pressure. "This will increase our study load for the entrance," he says.
Others like Sai Krishna and his parents, both of whom are engineers, desperately want to get this over with. "I have been taking coaching in a phased manner since Class VIII and my singular goal, unlike so many others is to get into IIT. I have my target set on IIT Madras. The longer this gets the more my chances at making it there are affected. If I can go to the supermarket and the doctor and restaurants with proper protection, why can't I write an exam." he asks.