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Talent test cash after two years

New Delhi, March 8: Seventy-three meritorious students will receive the national talent scholarship from the NCERT nearly two years after taking the 2012 screening test.

The students had qualified in the National Talent Search Examination (NTSE) under a revised cut-off mark decided by the National Council of Educational Research and Training executive council last December. But the NCERT kept dilly-dallying about implementing the decision as the matter had reached the courts.

On Wednesday, the HRD ministry issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the NCERT to award the scholarship to the 73 children, including 40 who were “victimised” by a wrong question in the 2012 NTSE.

Thirty-three children became collateral beneficiaries of the controversy as the government in December directed the NCERT to lower the qualifying mark for the scholarship from 148 to 147.

In 2012, the NCERT put a question with two correct answers in the NTSE — option A and option D. But marks were awarded only those who had chosen option D. After protests by parents, the NCERT admitted the question had two correct answers.

To handle this mistake, the NCERT committed another one by deciding to award zero marks to students on that question. As a result, 40 children were removed from the merit list.

The parents of the 40 children moved various courts to challenge the “victimisation”. Many parents also made representations before HRD minister, M.M. Pallam Raju, who is the NCERT president.

The NCERT executive committee decided to lower the qualifying mark to 147 to accommodate the 40 children. In the process, another 33 children got eligible as they had secured 147 marks also. So, the executive committee decided to award scholarships to all 73 children.

But the NCERT kept deferring award of scholarship on the pretext that the matter was sub-judice. On Wednesday, the HRD ministry reprimanded the authorities, sources in the ministry and NCERT said.

School education secretary R. Bhattacharya issued a letter asking the NCERT to award the scholarships within 24 hours, failing which responsibility would be fixed and action taken. Within two hours, the NCERT put out the supplementary list of 73 candidates who got the NTSE scholarship for 2012.

“For last two years, we have been visiting courts and approaching various forums to get what our children deserved. Finally, justice has been done,” Ajay Jain, whose son got the scholarship, said.

He said the cases filed in various courts by parents would be withdrawn.

The NCERT conducts the NTSE every year and gives students a scholarship of Rs 500 per month for further studies till they reach PhD. Nearly 5000 students, who clear the state-level talent search examination, are allowed to take the NTSE.