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State mulls scrapping JEE
- Exam racket prompts rethink on selection process

Calcutta, Aug. 13: The joint entrance examination (JEE) may be abolished and replaced by a system of selection based on Class XII marks.

Stung by recent reports of the entrance test scam, the government had sent a two-member team to Tamil Nadu to examine how it abolished its common entrance test (CET), equivalent to Bengal’s JEE.

Government sources said that though the Supreme Court has said all state governments should admit students to medical and engineering courses through a centralised test, the Tamil Nadu government introduced admission based on Class XII marks this year.

Bengal had sent the team to examine on what condition the southern state was permitted to do away with the CET. The team returned to Calcutta on Thursday.

“I’m yet to receive the final report. The officials have examined the new system adopted by the Tamil Nadu government. We’ll be in a position to take a final stand on the issue in September,” said Sudarshan Ray Chaudhuri, the higher education minister.

Education department sources said the Tamil Nadu government has formulated a new law — the Tamil Nadu Admission in Professional Educational Institution Act, 2007 which covers admission to engineering, medical and other professional streams such as pharmacology and BSc in agriculture.

In addition to the proposal to scrap the JEE altogether, the Bengal government is examining other options of revamping the admission process.

One of the options is to split the JEE into two parts — one for medical and the other for engineering.

The present system of asking only multiple choice questions (MCQs) might also be done away with and replaced by a structure that would include short-answer and essay-type questions as well as MCQs.

Sources said the preliminary observation of the team was that Tamil Nadu replaced the common entrance test primarily because it did not benefit students in rural areas.

Most students who took the CET took the help of private coaching centres and tutors, which were expensive and city-centric.

The JEE racket busted in Bengal used coaching centres to lure students and offer admission for money. Dummy candidates, who included doctors, used to take the tests and secure admission.

An education department official said the disadvantage to rural students because of the importance of private tuition in preparing for JEE is “an important ground to rep- lace it with selection on the basis of Class XII marks”.

The Tamil Nadu government had said the CET had become a traumatic experience for parents and children as it appeared to determine at one stroke the future of the child. A similar concern has been voiced by academics here.

There was a mixed response to the abolition plan from teachers.

While some welcomed it, the headmaster of a south Calcutta school pointed out that a student could appear in the board exam only once. “Many good students fail to do well in HS because of illness or problems at home.”

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