Published: 23rd November 2019
Are coaching ‘shops’ killing poor NEET examinees? The debate is on
Now, coaching is essential for getting seats for medical courses like MBBS. The entry exam is called NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test)
Coaching originated from sports. Then it extended to acting, music and public speaking. In India, in the educational field, it has developed into an obscene, money-minting business. Its main aim is to prepare candidates to appear for competitive examinations such as those for IAS, IFS and IPS posts.
Now, coaching is essential for getting seats for medical courses like MBBS. The entry exam is called NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) and is conducted by the National Testing Agency. NEET is far from ‘neat’ as it functions mainly for the rich, who can afford the high tuition fees. It is an unequal competition that cripples the poor, as reflected in a case which came up in the Madras High Court, and excerpted below.
The data submitted by the Tamil Nadu government to the Madras High Court on November 4, 2019 shows that only 2.1% of the students admitted into government and self-financing medical colleges in 2019 had passed the NEET exam without enrolling in private coaching centres. A panel from the High Court observed that NEET had disadvantaged poor students and treated ‘unequals as equals.’ Also, 3033 students secured MBBS seats by enrolling in private coaching ‘shops’, while only 48 students secured the seats without it. Thus, only 1.55% of the students in government medical colleges cleared the exams without getting coaching from private centres. In self-financing colleges, the percentage of students who secured medical seats without coaching is 3.15%.
The panel asked why the present central government, which rolled back the programmes of the previous government, did not scrap NEET. On learning that private coaching institutes charged anywhere between `2.5 lakh and `5 lakh, the panel observed that the doors of most medical colleges were closed to poor students. “It is shocking to note that only negligible candidates have got admission without undergoing coaching. This means that medical education is not available to the poor,” said the court. “Moreover, this will also put rural students in a disadvantageous position, as they lack the facilities to undergo coaching,” it added. The panel also said that this issue should be taken note of by the Centre.
The court also heard a petition which demanded a proper counselling procedure for management quota seats. The case has highlighted the unequal competition between the rich, who can afford the high fees charged by the coaching ‘shops,’ and the poor, as well as the logistic advantage that urban candidates have compared to rural-based candidates who have no easy way of reaching coaching centres.