Education Minister Live Updates: Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank says postponing NEET 2021 is not feasible option, but open to evaluate alternate modes like online testing

Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank in his live address to students who will be appearing for board exams 2021 and other competitive exams such as JEE and NEET 2021 said that candidates must prepare diligently for the upcoming exams.

He said that while a few students suggested postponement and cancellations of exams like NEET 2021, this is not a viable option.

A few students also sought cancellation of NEET 2020 as well and had also approached the Supreme Court. However, the SC order dismissed these petitions and said that JEE/NEET will be held as per the schedule.

In NEET 2020, we offered choice of centres to students and also increased exam centres to maintain social distancing. But as the Supreme Court also rightly mentioned, it is in the students’ interest to give exams on time,” he added.

On the mode of the examination, Nishank said that NEET is a test which needs offline mode. However, he said that the ministry is open to suggestions on online model and how it can be conducted through a digital mode.

Nishank said that the government is looking into the possibility of holding JEE exams multiple times a year. Students had suggested holding the exam three to four times a year so that candidates could choose dates as per their convenience.

“We are closely looking into the possibility of holding JEE about three to four times a year. If it is feasible, we are open to this idea,” he added. JEE Main is the entrance exam for admission into undergraduate engineering programmes in India.

On the syllabus reduction, the minister said that there a few state governments who haven’t reduced the syllabus. He added that the government will ensure that students from across educational board will be able to give the competitive exams like JEE and NEET without any difficulty.

During the live interaction, Nishank was asked about the difficulty of giving practical examination in the laboratories due to COVID-19.

He said that depending on the intensity of COVID-19, the schools and respective education boards will look into alternatives if these practical exams cannot be conducted.

Nishank was answering questions during his interactive session on the upcoming board examinations and competitive exams.

There were multiple questions posed to the minister on the possibility of postponement of board exams to prevent the virus spread and amidst school shutdown.

To this, Nishank said that it will be ensured that students get adequate time to prepare for the board examinations and complete the syllabus. He added that it is not just school’s responsibility but also that of students. Wearing masks and maintaining social distancing will be key, he said.

“We had close to 1.5 million students writing NEET in 2020. So we have adequate experience in conducting exams amidst the pandemic. But we will take a final decision depending on the virus outbreak situation,” he added.

When it comes to schools, he said that all state governments have been told to take a decision on school reopening amidst COVID-19.

“About 17 states have opened schools, though physical attendance is low. But we need to keep in mind that safety is first and then comes education,” he added.

Amidst the Coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown, students across the country had expressed concerns about the 2021 examinations and how these would be conducted.

The education ministry had invited suggestions and queries from students. Nishank is answering these questions live.

During his live interaction, the education minister said that in the 2020 board examinations, students from across the country had displayed their focus with a handful of students even scoring 499 marks out of 500 in the Class X board exams.

Nishank said that even cities like Trivandrum, Bengaluru and Chennai showed ‘excellent’ results in the CBSE board examination.

Talking about the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 that has been approved by the Cabinet, Nishank said that this will help create new reforms and opportunities to the students. He also pointed that international counterparts have also lauded India for NEP.

When it comes to the board examinations, Nishank said that the word ‘fail’ will not be used. However, he did not clarify what steps are being taken to change the marking strategy during the board exams for doing so.

“Due to the COVID-19, the exam portion for CBSE 2021 board exam will be reduced by 30 percent,” he added.

Going forward, Nishank said that the ministry will also engage with teachers from across schools to look into their concerns and bring out necessary solutions for their students.