IIT Bombay and Delhi chiefs against postponing JEE
The directors of IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi have said any postponement of the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main will land the tech schools and students in uncertainty and cause academic disruption.
Several chief ministers, including Mamata Banerjee, and students’ organisations have demanded that competitive exams such as the JEE Main and the medical National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) be deferred because of the pandemic. The exams are scheduled to begin from September 1.
IIT Bombay director Subhasis Chaudhuri said on Wednesday that deferring JEE Main might not be the right solution since there was no clarity on how long the Covid-19 pandemic would last and “how long we can keep our young aspirants guessing over their future”.
“Even if the exam is postponed by two months, there is no guarantee that the Covid crisis will end by that time. The best way to get over any uncertainty is to get done with the uncertainty. The idea will be to hold the test by enforcing all safety precautions to guard against the spread of the infection, both by the test centres and the candidates, as well as facilitating the candidates’ safe travel to the exam centres,” Chaudhuri told The Telegraph.
Chaudhuri said all international entrance exams like SAT, GMAT, GRE and TOEFL are being held as scheduled by adhering to safety protocols.
He pointed out that the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 had lasted over two years, killing nearly 15 million people in India alone. However, there is no record to suggest any major disruption in academic activities in universities during that period, he said.
“The issue is if Covid continues for two years, should academic activities be stopped for two years?” Chaudhuri asked.
IIT Delhi director Ramgopal Rao has put out a post on Facebook stating that the pandemic is not going to recede in another six months to one year. The institutions and stakeholders need to get used to this new normal and the “earlier we realise that, the better it is for all of us”, he has written.
“As far as JEE Main is concerned, the exam is now conducted multiple times in a year. In case some students cannot write the JEE Main this time, they can take the exam after six months. I don’t see any reason for a concern. The consequences of postponing these exams any further can have serious repercussions on IIT academic calendars and for the candidates,” Rao has written.
JEE Main is held to admit students to BTech courses in the National Institutes of Technology and many other engineering institutions. The top 2.5 lakh scorers are eligible to appear for JEE Advanced, conducted by the IITs for admission to their BTech programmes.
Nearly 8.5 lakh candidates have applied for JEE Main, to be conducted by the National Testing Agency from September 1 to 6. Around 16 lakh students have applied for the NEET, which is scheduled for September 13.
The NTA has written to the state governments to ensure power supply at the exam centres, law-and-order monitoring, crowd management and facilitation of the movement of candidates. The NTA chief has appealed to students to take the test under the standard operating procedure put in place for the smooth conduct of the exams.
The IITs usually admit students in July. If JEE Main is held next week and JEE Advanced later in September, the academic session for the fresh batch can start in December. If JEE Main is further delayed, the new batch will lose most of this academic year, and the time gap between the 2020-21 and 2021-22 batches will be minimal, Rao pointed out.
“I fail to see how we can run two batches together. It will become a zero academic year for lakhs of students. Our academic calendars are too packed already and linked to too many other things. The delays can impact the careers of so many bright student,” he wrote.
IIT Delhi is the organising institute for JEE Advanced, which is scheduled to be held on September 27. The director has mentioned in the Facebook post that all preparations for JEE Advanced are already in place.
The director of Punjab Engineering College, Dheeraj Sanghi, has suggested that JEE Main be spread out over 10 weeks.
“I feel one sitting should be held once a week. JEE Main is scheduled to be held in 10 sittings over six days. If it is staggered over 10 weeks with a frequency of one sitting per week, and students are allowed to take the test as per their convenience, a lot of the concerns can be addressed,” Sanghi said.
There has been a nationwide online campaign against compromising students’ safety by making them sit for exams in the middle of the pandemic. The campaign caught the attention of Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg who has lent her support to the cause.