Tamil Nadu Steps Up Campaign to Abolish NEET Exam

Retired Madras High Court Justice A K Rajan has urged the Tamil Nadu government to take immediate legal or legislative steps to eliminate the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET). He advocates for making higher secondary examination (Plus Two) marks the sole criteria for admission to first-year medical programs. This recommendation aims to ensure equal opportunities for students from diverse educational boards, with the potential implementation of score normalization.

The Justice Rajan-led high-level committee, established after the DMK’s electoral victory in 2021, has published its report on the impact of NEET-based admissions. The report, based on extensive data analysis and public feedback, has been shared with state governments to raise awareness about NEET’s alleged discriminatory nature. Chief Minister M K Stalin has voiced his opposition to NEET, sharing the comprehensive report on social media in English and regional languages.

The committee’s recommendations include taking necessary legal and legislative actions to eliminate NEET as an admission criterion for medical programs. The government is advised to assert that the State’s exclusive powers under Entry 32 of List III (University education) cannot be overridden by Entry II of List III (Regulation of Universities). Admissions to affiliated colleges under the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University are governed by Act 3 of 2007, and hence should be filled according to its provisions. Alternatively, the state could enact a new law similar to Act 3/2007, explicitly stating the need to eliminate NEET at all levels of medical education. This would require the President’s assent to ensure social justice and protect vulnerable student communities from discrimination in medical education admissions.

The committee emphasizes that higher secondary scores should be the sole admission criteria for first-degree medical programs. To ensure equality among students from different boards, score normalization may be implemented. It identifies socio-economic and demographic ‘adversities’ that hinder performance in HSC examinations for underprivileged students and suggests using an ‘Adversity Score’ framework for re-profiling scores. The committee stresses the need to reform school education to promote ‘learning’ over ‘coaching’ by revamping the curriculum, teaching methodologies, and assessment processes to empower students with subject knowledge and higher-order skills. Rote learning and coaching should be eliminated, with a focus on acquired knowledge and skills.

Regarding deemed universities, the Tamil Nadu Assembly must pass an Act to bring them under its purview, similar to Act 3/2007, with the President’s approval. Chief Minister Stalin highlights that a Bill seeking exemption from NEET has been passed by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly but awaits Presidential assent. Amidst growing nationwide opposition to NEET, the Chief Minister expresses hope that sharing the Justice A K Rajan Committee’s report in multiple languages will raise awareness about NEET’s negative consequences.

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