NEET and the parochialisation of medical education
The debate over NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) continues. The states which have private medical colleges have been the most vocal about delaying NEET for just one more year.
Surprisingly, the argument put forward by the state governments is that it is appropriate for students of a state to appear for CET (Common Entrance Test). All CETs are run by the state governments concerned. And the justification for holding the CETs instead of NEET has been that the state has to look after non-English medium students who need to take the CET in their local language.
Local language? Has anyone talked about local language tests for the JEE (Joint Entrance Examinations) which are the entrance examination for admission to the IITs? If the IITs can have a single language test, what is so special about medical education that you need tests in local languages?
Take another factor. Almost all medical education (except alternative medical courses like homoeopathy, unani, ayurved etc) is imparted in English in India. Do the state governments want medical education to be imparted in local languages? If yes, do they have the vast range of textbooks and reference material that any pursuit of mainstream medical education requires?
Take a third factor. When students want to go to a global college, they must appear for TOEFL, GRE, GMAT or some other tests that are conducted only in English. So ministers are willing to let their own children study in English and then appear for these global examinations in English. Yet they want to promote local languages as an excuse for having CET as the norm for admission to medical colleges in their respective states!
There could be only one reason for conducting CETs in their respective states. The states would be willing to bend over backwards to allow managements of private colleges to get their desired students admitted to private medical colleges. And do remember, that admission is secured to these colleges only against payment of a hefty capitation fee which can hover around Rs 50 lakh per seat (and is said to have gone to double this amount at times!).
In other words, politicians are promoting nothing but parochialisation of medical education. It is good politics. It is good money. But it is disastrous education management. Yet the ministers say that they are the guardians of public interest!
Oh, come on, you can be more imaginative than that!