Government school medical aspirants left in the lurch, as NEET coaching yet to re-start

Government school teachers were engaged in 'election duty', disabling them from continuing the classes. The students have so far received training for only a little over 3 months, in total
Image for representational purpose only (PTI)
Image for representational purpose only (PTI)

Barely three months to go for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Tests (NEET) for MBBS courses, but the State's free coaching classes for government school students has been indefinitely suspended since December last year. This delay affects around 20,000 medical aspirants, whose only hope at cracking this exam scheduled for May 3, is this coaching.

Meanwhile, the government, expressing its opposition to NEET itself, has filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging Section 10(D) of the Indian Medical Council (IMC) Act. The petition is still pending with the court. NEET is being conducted under the said section, which was inserted through an amendment to the IMC Act. The State filed a fresh plea after the apex court said that the government had the liberty to challenge this provision. Despite its opposition to NEET, the government had been conducting free classes for the past two years.

Hardly trained

Government school teachers were engaged in 'election duty', disabling them from continuing the classes. The students have so far received training for only a little over 3 months, in total. Even though the election work ended in January, classes did not start as Pongal vacation followed suit.

"There has been no clear communication on when the classes would resume," a government school teacher, who also coaches students in Tiruchy district, said. He added that it will be difficult to restart the classes in February as practical exams and revision tests will be conducted.

Students will be held up until April with their public exams. Teachers will also be occupied with the examination work. "Ideally, classes should begin in June and go all the way till the end of January. Because teachers had additional duties to perform, it began only in September," PK Ilamaran, leader of Tamil Nadu Government Teachers Association said.

Unequal coaching

Even the training given to the students has not been uniform. Eetoos, a private coaching institute that trains students in Rajasthan's Kota, conducted an orientation for about 400 students across few centres in Chennai, Coimbatore and Erode, in August 2019. For other students, who weren't arbitrarily chosen by Eetoos, classes began only in September. These were conducted during weekends in 412 centres across the State, and about 50 students were selected for each centre.

Few government schools alone have resumed the coaching after the holidays without awaiting any instructions. They have conducted one or two sessions in the weekend that followed Pongal.

Government's promises

School Education Minister KA Sengottaiyan, speaking to reporters on Wednesday at Erode, said that the classes will begin soon. While he said that it will resume after public exams, he did not give any specific date as to when.

In a tweet on December 7, 2019, the minister said that the government will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an American company that will help with the free coaching, within a week. However, he clarified on Wednesday that the MoU couldn't be signed due to various complications.

The government in 2019 said that most students from these classes will be hand-picked for an intense residential training programme, to be held in April. Yet, there has been no information on this programme to date.

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