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Thursday, July 18, 2024

We must not fail our young students: Investigations behind the lapses in NEET & UGC-NET exams a must

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In recent years, the integrity of India’s premier examinations, such as the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and the University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET), has come under severe scrutiny. Recent incidents, including the paper leak in NEET in Bihar and the cancellation of UGC-NET exams due to detected irregularities by intelligence agencies, highlight a disturbing trend that threatens the future of our young students. The Indian government must confront this systemic rot head-on and prioritize genuine reform over political rhetoric because 24lacs students to the NEET 2024 exams, and 10lacs took the UGC-NET 2024 exams. We must not fail our young students.

The NEET and UGC-NET examinations are critical gateways for students aspiring to join medical schools and academic institutions as educators, respectively. These exams not only determine the academic and professional trajectories of countless young individuals but also underpin the credibility of India’s educational system. When such examinations are compromised, the consequences are far-reaching.

When students prepare rigorously for these high-stakes exams only to face the chaos of leaks and cancellations, it erodes their trust in the system. This disillusionment can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and a sense of futility regarding their efforts. Paper leaks and irregularities give an unfair advantage to those who engage in malpractice. This not only undermines the principle of meritocracy but also demotivates genuinely hardworking students.

The NEET paper leak in Bihar was a profound betrayal of trust for students who had invested significant time and effort in their preparation. This breach not only disrupts the academic trajectory of students but also erodes faith in the examination system. Investigations revealed that the rate of the leak was ₹30lacs per student for the NEET paper.

The UGC-NET, a critical examination for determining eligibility for college and university-level lectureships and for awarding Junior Research Fellowships, has also been marred by allegations of irregularities. Intelligence agencies have uncovered malpractices significant enough to warrant the cancellation of exams. These revelations are not mere administrative hiccups; they signify deep-rooted flaws that threaten the quality of higher education and research in the country.

A compromised examination system tarnishes India’s reputation on a global scale. It calls into question the validity of qualifications and can affect international perceptions of Indian professionals and academics. The recurrence of such incidents indicates systemic failures that need urgent addressing. The government’s inability to prevent these breaches reflects a larger issue of inefficiency and possibly corruption within the examination conducting bodies. Acknowledging these failures is the first step toward meaningful reform. Merely issuing statements or engaging in political blame games will not suffice.

Implementing advanced technologies and robust protocols to secure examination papers can significantly reduce the risk of leaks. This includes end-to-end encryption of examination materials and rigorous monitoring during the printing, transportation, and distribution phases. Establishing transparent processes and holding accountable those responsible for breaches is crucial. This involves strict penalties for malpractice and a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption within the examination bodies.

At the heart of these reforms must be a commitment to our young students. They deserve a fair and transparent examination system that recognizes their hard work and aspirations. As a society, we owe it to them to provide an environment where merit is genuinely rewarded and educational integrity is upheld.

The discourse around these failures must transcend the political agendas of both the ruling and the opposition. The future of our students is too critical to be reduced to a tool for political maneuvering. Educational integrity is a cornerstone of national development and social progress. By ensuring a fair and transparent examination system, we invest in a future where merit and hard work are rightfully rewarded. The government must rise above political posturing and take definitive action to restore faith in these crucial examinations. Failure to do so not only jeopardizes the future of individual students but also the nation’s educational standards and global standing.

The lapses in the NEET and UGC-NET exams are a call to action. It is imperative that the Indian government acknowledges these failures, implements stringent reforms, and ensures that the dreams and aspirations of our young students are not compromised. We must act now, decisively and transparently, to safeguard the future of our nation.

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