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JEE NEET 2020: Exams are being held when COVID-19 cases are at its peak in India

When an MLA sitting in an AC room in the Legislative Assembly with just a few members of the assembly can lose their breath while speaking on the floor, what about the students who have to appear for an exam for three hours or more and solve complex questions with their masks on?

Students appearing for JEE Mains exam | Source: The Indian Express

On Monday, many MLAs of Maharashtra including ex-CM Devendra Fadnavis did not put a mask on while speaking on the floor of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly due to breathlessness.

He said, “Wearing a mask with specs get fogged and I can’t see, that’s why I’m putting my mask down", Times Now reported.

He was just addressing the assembly and delivering a short speech, whereas JEE Mains and NEET candidates have to write hours long exam with keeping their mask on the whole time. When an MLA sitting in an AC room in the Legislative Assembly with just a few members of the assembly can lose their breath while speaking on the floor, what about the students who have to appear for an exam for three hours or more and solve complex questions with their masks on?

Over 24.55 lakh candidates registered for these examinations before the lockdown was announced and COVID-19 was considered to be one of the biggest threats to mankind. JEE Mains was supposed to be held in April 2020 but due to the massive outbreak of the Coronavirus, the dates were postponed. In April, India was not even amongst the top 20 countries with the highest number of coronavirus cases. On July 3, the examinations were postponed to September by the Ministry of HRD. As per NDTV reported on June 23, Ramesh Pokhriyal commented on the postponement of the entrance exams,

“Safety of students is paramount. The situation doesn't seem conducive to hold these examinations.”

Back then, India had a total of 6 lakh Coronavirus cases with a maximum of 20,000 cases per day. Recently, the JEE Mains exam was held from September 1 to 6, a total number of 6.35 lakh candidates appeared for the exam and a total absentee of 26% was observed. During the examination week, India had the most number of COVID-19 cases after the USA in the world, with more than 90,000 cases recorded on 6th September itself. 15.97 lakh registered students are going to appear for the NEET-UG exam on September 13, which will happen after India recorded to have the most number of daily Coronavirus deaths in the world on Wednesday and a total of 44 lakh cases as per today.

An appeal was made to the Supreme Court by numerous helpless candidates and their parents, many state government representatives also appealed to the government to postpone the examinations keeping the student’s health as a priority. SC rejected the plea and ignored thousands of candidates who now have to write an exam by risking their health. Even our PM had a chance to think about the matter once and give his final decision by postponing the exam further or canceling it but he chose to remain silent.

While rejecting the plea, the Supreme Court said that a whole precious year of a candidate’s career cannot be wasted because of the pandemic, life has to go on with safety measures. Did all of this not matter two months ago when the HRD Minister postponed the exam due to the increasing COVID-19 cases?

Multiple pleas are being filed every day to postpone the exams but the SC and the central government have seemed to show the other side of the face and ignore them blatantly. More than 31 million paid jobs were lost between the period of April and August this year. Thousands of companies don’t have financial backing and the unemployment rates are touching the skies. The economy is falling apart drastically and many corporations have stopped working. So, are the careers of students going to flourish if they don't appear for these exams during such circumstances?

In the education sector, the government has failed to initiate digital education properly. Only 12.57% of students’ homes have internet access out of which many falls in the category where they don’t have enough data plan to support online classes.

All the entrance examinations are being held so that aspirants can enroll in a high ranking college/university for a better future but the sad truth is that these colleges are functioning at their least capability due to COVID-19. Lab classes that play an integral part in these colleges are completely stopped due to lack of infrastructure. Professors are failing to teach complex theories because of various reasons, lack of internet access, and infrastructure being some of them.

Corporates have decided to follow work-from-home guidelines until December 2020 and this notice was circulated in the last week of July. If the big corporations don’t have a problem with ‘“jeopardizing their operations for a year”, then why should helpless students be forced to give these exams? Many of these students come from the circle of poverty. If they get Coronavirus, they can’t even afford the testing fee. All this harassment is being faced by the candidates just to give one exam which will not even provide them quality education amid the pandemic.

The Pandemic has caused the entire world to collapse and everything has been shut down due to these unprecedented events. Amid all of these mishaps, the high profile government ministry decides for lakhs of students to risk their health over postponing an exam. Postponing these exams will undoubtedly have a lot of repercussions. The number of candidates will outdo the number of seats which in turn will result in fewer job prospects along with other problems that might follow. However, this is bound to happen irrespective of these exams.

The economy is evidently falling apart and the unemployment rates are touching the skies and interestingly this is not only for India but for the whole wide world.

In times like these, we need to understand that all the above-mentioned problems will occur and these examinations won’t contribute a dime in solving them but instead will contribute to increasing the coronavirus cases and jeopardizing the health of millions.

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