The forthcoming Joint Entrance Examination (JEE)-Main and National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) – to be held between September 1 and 6 and on September 13 for undergraduate engineering and medical course aspirants, respectively — amid the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak have left several candidates and their parents a worried lot.
Diwakar Gupta, the father of Dipesh Gupta, a NEET candidate and a resident of a village in Uttar Pradesh’s (UP) Sitapur district, has been anxious over the past few days. He has been in constant touch with a local taxi driver and sought his assurance to drive Gupta to his examination centre on the date of the examination on September 13, as the transportation facility from his native village is few and far between.
Transport woes have further worsened because of the pandemic.
“My NEET examination centre is around 60 kilometres (km) from my home. My father has booked a private vehicle since there is no direct transport between my home and the examination centre,” said Dipesh.
Though Diwakar Gupta has already paid Rs 6,000 in advance to the taxi driver, he still can’t rest easy.
“Will it be safe for my son to travel such a long distance, when Covid-19 cases are on the rise? Is it not like playing with the lives of our children?” he thought aloud.
“The leaders, who have decided to go ahead with conducting these examinations, must review their decision and postpone it until Covid-19 is under control,” he added.
National Testing Agency (NTA), the nodal body that conducts entrance tests for higher educational institutions, has assured taking measures to ensure safety of the candidates.
The agency has increased the number of examination centres in a bid to enforce social distancing norms at each centres. Steps are also being taken to ensure candidates can appear at “centres that are close to their homes”.
On Tuesday, NTA had issued a press statement that showed UP has the second-highest number of candidates, who are slated to appear for NEET.
A total of 1,66,582 students will appear for NEET in 320 centres in UP on September 13, as compared 1,39,497 candidates in 188 centres last year.
NEET is a pen-and-paper examination, unlike JEE-Main, an online exercise.
JEE-Main will be conducted in 66 centres in UP between September 1 and 6 in shifts. A total of 1,00,706 candidates from UP are expected to appear for JEE-Main this year.
Last year, 85,898 JEE-Main candidates from UP had appeared for the examination that was held in 47 centres, NTA data showed.
The testing agency has claimed to have distributed the examination centres across UP, despite allegations of bias towards candidates from urban areas.
Yashwant Singh, a JEE-Main candidate, who lives in a village in UP’s Badaun district, said, “I will have to travel over 120 km to reach the exam centre. This is a risky proposition amid the Covid-19 outbreak. Candidates, who live in urban areas, will have to travel a much shorter distance to reach their respective examination centres,” said Singh.
Several students have claimed that their preparations for the upcoming examinations were affected because of the pandemic and many are still hoping that the examinations will be postponed owing to the pandemic.