Inequity and injustice writ large – Regarding NEET

Synopsis: This article explains the journey of Education and issues surrounding NEET.

Introduction

Historically, states had established medical colleges and allowed private persons to establish medical colleges. States regulated the admission of students to these colleges. Standards and quality of education improved over time. But, the NEET is creating an era of great inequity and injustice.

About the journey of education in India

The Constitution of India was a compact between the states. The central pillar of the Constitution consists of the Three Lists — Union List, State List and Concurrent List.

List II (State List), Entry 11, as originally enacted, read: Education, including universities, subject to the provisions of entries 63, 64, 65 and 66 of List I and entry 25 of List III.

List III (Concurrent List), Entry 25, as originally enacted, read: Vocational and technical training of labour.

Entries 63 to 66 posed no problem at all because they dealt with some named institutions, institutions of scientific and technical education funded by the Central government, training institutions and laying down of standards.

During the emergency, by 42nd amendment, the Parliament deleted Entry 11 of the State List instead added it into Entry 25 of the Concurrent List. Entry 25 was re-written as: Education, including technical education, medical education and universities.

The 44th Constitution Amendment did not restore the original entries concerning ‘education’.

What are the reasons to run State medical colleges?

State government medical colleges are established using the money of the people of the state. They are intended, by and large, to admit the children of the people of that state and teach them medicine in English and, in course of time, in the state’s official language.

The graduating doctors are expected, by and large, to serve the people of that state, especially in the rural areas where healthcare was/is woefully inadequate. They are expected, by and large, to speak and prescribe and counsel the patients in their language.

State governments encouraged admission of rural students, students who studied in government schools, children from poor families, children belonging to disadvantaged sections and first-generation learners.

There were grave issues that needed to be addressed such as capitation fees, excessive fees, poor quality of equipment, inadequately attached hospitals, inadequate laboratory, library, hostel and playground facilities and so on. These problems are continuing problems irrespective of whether the state regulates the admission of students or some Central authority does so.

How NEET evolved?

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is acclaimed as merit has to be the sole criteria for admission at all India level.  The Supreme Court also in Modern Dental College vs State of MP case, held that, “When it comes to higher education, that too in professional institutions, merit has to be the sole criteria”. Only a common entrance test will ensure merit-based admissions, fairness, transparency and non-exploitation.

Why NEET is creating inequity and injustice?

Justice A K Rajan Committee on the impact of NEET on the admission process in medical colleges in Tamil Nadu highlighted the inequity and injustice in the NEET.

NEET
Source: Indian Expres

Students who study in state board schools and take the state board exam are at disadvantageous in NEET. Further, the relevance of the State board itself will come into question, as there is a common syllabus for NEET.

With NEET, state governments shy away to spend the state’s tax-payers’ money and set up government medical colleges.

Urban students might not serve in the PHCs and taluk-level hospitals.

Must read: National Entrance cum Eligibility Test(NEET) – Issues and Significance- Explained, pointwise

Source: This post is based on the article “Inequity and injustice writ large” published in The Indian Express on 20th Sep 2021.

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