Medical Education Governance in India

NEET hasn’t created the equality of opportunity

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Issues with NEET

Context

The Tamil Nadu government has passed an Act seeking an exemption from treating NEET as the sole and mandatory requirement for medical admission in the state. The Act, which is yet to get approval from the President.

NEET issue in Tamil Nadu

  • The Justice A K Rajan committee was appointed by the state government of Tamil Nadu to examine whether NEET is an equitable method of selection.
  • Its report lends credence to the belief that NEET tends to give an advantage to students from privileged backgrounds.
  • It also observed that NEET, in terms of orientation, is biased towards the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
  • In the section titled ‘Size of coaching market’, the report brings out two poignant facts.
  • One, by inadvertently creating a “market for coaching”, NEET has helped to create an “extractive industry of coaching” as an essential condition for clearing it.
  • Two, the coaching fees are not only high, but are beyond the reach of many, especially the poor and marginalised.
  • Acting upon the committee’s recommendation, the Tamil Nadu government has passed an Act seeking an exemption from treating NEET.
  • The Act, which is yet to get approval from the President.
  •  An educational intervention which was introduced as a solution to foster equality of opportunity has turned out to be the primary cause of deepening inequality of participation and opportunity.

Important questions

  • There are at least two important questions.
  • Equality of opportunity: First, does NEET help foster equality of opportunity for everyone without unduly advantaging or disadvantaging anyone?
  • Second, is NEET’s bias towards CBSE justifiable in an immensely diverse country like ours, where varied school curricula coexist with a highly unequal access to financial and educational resources and opportunities?
  • The question here is: How can NEET promote parity of participation when aspiring first-generation students from marginalised and poor households participate from a highly unequal position in the first place?
  • NEET disregards the fact that the terms and conditions of participation are highly unequal and biased.

Way forward

  • The National Education Policy (NEP 2020) envisions a curriculum and pedagogy which will promote holistic learning, social responsibility and multilingualism, among other things.
  • It is important, therefore, to significantly restructure the focus of NEET keeping in mind the spirit of NEP and varied school curricula in regional languages.

Conclusion

A restructured NEET, which does not require intensive and repeated coaching as a prerequisite and is not biased towards any board, can go a long way in promoting the parity of participation and nourishing the capacity to aspire, especially of the poor and marginalised.

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