Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has written to Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad urging him that Maharashtra be exempted from the all-India common entrance test, NEET-UG, for admissions to the MBBS course. The test is scheduled for May 13 next year. In the letter, Chavan has cited a mismatch in the syllabus for the National Eligibility cum-Entrance Test (NEETUG) and the Maharashtra state education board’s existing syllabus for Std XII as well as the MHT-CET, which is the combined entrance exam for admissions to health sciences and engineering degree courses in the state.
Chavan has stated that the letter is being written on behalf of scores of Std XII students and parents, who have aired their serious concern over the NEET-UG. “It is too late for the state government to inform the students about the changes in the syllabus finalised for NEET-UG,” the CM has said.
Chavan has further pointed out that English and Hindi are only two mediums of instruction for NEET-UG whereas the MHT-CET, which is the combined entrance test for health sciences and engineering degree courses in the state, can be written in English, Marathi and Urdu. “Marathi and Urdu medium students will be at a great disadvantage in writing the NEET-UG,” he has stated. The CM also pointed out that the state is bound to conduct the MHTCET 2012, considering that the NEET-UG does not have mathematics, which is crucial for engineering aspirants. “As such, the students will be under severe pressure to prepare for MHT-CET as well as NEET-UG,” he has said.
“Only 15% to 20% of the state’s medical aspirants, who are familiar with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) syllabus, will benefit from NEET-UG in 2012 while the larger 80% students will suffer,” the CM has stated. The CBSE, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and the Council of Boards of School Education in India (COBSE) have jointly prepared the syllabus for NEET-UG. It has been finalised by the Medical Council of India (MCI) and is now posted on the council’s website. The MCI has conveyed the exam plan to the Supreme Court and has forwarded the same to the Union health ministry to notify the NEET-UG.
However, the impending test has drawn opposition from states like Gujarat, West Ben-, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, among others, who are in favour of the test being conducted from 2013 instead of 2012, with the students given the option to write the test in regional languages. The high court’s in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have, in fact, granted a stay on the NEET-UG regulations. In Maharashtra, a large section of parents in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and other cities have opposed the test. The state government even moved the Supreme Court with a plea that the NEETUG be conducted from 2014. “We had cited the Chennai high court’s order that stayed the NEET-UG regulations in Tamil Nadu, while putting up our case,” Sanjay Kharde, counsel for the Maharashtra government in the Supreme Court, told TOI on Tuesday.
Kharde said, “We (Maharashtra government) withdrew the plea after the apex court suggested that it was better for the state government to move the Bombay high court on this issue. I have since recommended that the state government file a plea in the high court.”
State director of medical education and research Pravin Shingare said, “The department for medical education has referred a draft petition to the state’s advocate general (AG) for the latter’s final approval, following which the petition will be filed in the Bombay high court.”
Shingare said, “We are constantly in touch with the AG on the issue of the and going to file it in the high court soon.” As an independent effort, the government is also exploring other alternatives to see that the interests of the medical course aspirants from the state are protected. The CM’s letter comes as part of this effort.