Medical Education Governance in India

The allegations over NEET-UG 2024 | Explained


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NEET, NTA

Mains level: The National Testing Agency responds to the various charges against the conduct of the exams.

Why in the news?

On June 13, the Union government informed the Supreme Court that the scorecards of 1,563 candidates who received compensatory marks in the NEET-UG 2024 exam, held on May 5, will be cancelled.

About National Testing Agency:

  • National Testing Agency (NTA) has been established as a premier, specialist, autonomous and self-sustained testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for admission/fellowship in higher educational institutions.
  • The NTA was established in 2017 by the Ministry of Education.
  • NTA is responsible for conducting the
    • Joint Entrance Examination – Main (JEE Main)
    • National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG)
    • National Eligibility Test (NET)
    • Common Management Admission Test (CMAT)
    • Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT).
  • The NTA is chaired by an eminent educationist who will be appointed by the Ministry of Education.

Why has the Union government told the Supreme Court that it will cancel the scorecards of candidates who have been awarded grace marks?

  • Technical Issues During Exam: The cancellation stems from petitions challenging the award of grace marks to 1,563 candidates from six NEET centers due to technical issues that did not allow them the full 3.2 hours to complete the exam.
  • Compensatory Marks Controversy: Grace marks were awarded based on a court order and the recommendation of a committee constituted by the National Testing Agency (NTA). This move was challenged as arbitrary and lacking transparency.
  • Skewed Results: The committee found that the compensatory marks led to a skewed situation, thus recommending the cancellation of the scorecards for these candidates and conducting a re-test on June 23.

How did the National Testing Agency respond to the various charges against the conduct of the exams?

  • Formation of Committee: In response to the allegations, the NTA constituted a four-member committee to investigate the truth behind the claims, including the award of grace marks and other issues related to the conduct of NEET 2024.
  • Admission of Irregularities: The NTA admitted that the grace marks caused confusion and contributed to skewed results. They acknowledged technical issues and the improper awarding of grace marks.
  • Panel Recommendations: The panel recommended limiting grace marks to the attempted questions and concluded that it would be best to cancel the test for the affected 1,563 students.
  • Explanations for High Scores: NTA officials attributed the unusually high number of perfect scores (67 students scoring 720/720) to an ‘easy paper’, but still took steps to address the fairness and validity of the results by planning a re-test.
  • Addressing Other Allegations: The NTA’s response included acknowledging various logistical issues such as slow distribution of question papers, wrong OMR sheets, and technical delays, and they aimed to ensure better planning and execution in future exams.

Way forward: 

  • Calls for a Re-test for All Candidates: Students and education experts argue that if the exam can be cancelled for 1,563 candidates, it should be cancelled for all 23 lakh candidates to maintain fairness. They believe that the logical step is to conduct a re-test for everyone who took the May 5 exam.
  • Restoring Faith in the System: The dissatisfaction expressed on social media highlights a loss of faith in the examination system. To restore confidence, students demand comprehensive measures to address the flaws and ensure a fair and transparent testing process for all candidates.
  • Improving Examination Conduct: For an exam of NEET’s scale and history, it is expected that organizational issues should be resolved. The NTA and government agencies need to enhance measures to prevent fraud, ensure the timely distribution of materials, and apply proper judgment to address any technical issues during the exam, aiming for a smooth and reliable process in future examinations.

Mains PYQ:

Q National Education Policy 2020 is in conformity with the Sustainable Development Goal-4 (2030). It intends to restructure and reorient the education system in India. Critically examine the statement. (UPSC IAS/2020)

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