NEET: A promoter of merit or just an eye wash?
The last few years have seen instrumental changes in medical education in India, one of them being – National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). This move by the government was covered extensively by print, electronic as well as social media. NEET was a step ahead to standardize entrance examinations around the country. Indeed it came up with some solutions like eliminating multiple medical entrance examinations thus saving time and money of medical aspirants.
But the NEET, which is being hailed as the remedy for all medical entrance issues, is nothing but an eyewash if we analyze it for one of its objectives i.e. promoting merit. Earlier, we used to have the Pre Medical Test (PMT) system where at least 50 PERCENT marks were compulsory to get a government medical college seat. Then, private medical college players entered into the medical education arena. Everything was on sale by most of them- many of them conducted their own fake entrance exams and sold the MBBS seats by covert auction/ bidding system. Then, the country was bestowed upon by NEET by claiming that it will be the remedy of all medical admissions ill and that it will allow only meritorious students to get into Medical education.
But unfortunately, NEET opted for PERCENTILE system. Although, the minimum percentile required is 50 percentile, but that's an eyewash. The 50 percentile system included students even with less than 33 % marks and make them eligible to opt for an MBBS seat. If the seats were not filled up in subsequent counseling rounds, then this percentile limit was decreased further to fill up the vacant seats. Now by this new method, even those students who are securing about 25- 30 PERCENT marks are also getting admission in private medical colleges in last or mop-up rounds. Thus, the rich aspirants and private players got the maximum benefit from this percentile system.
Also, these colleges have increased the fee structure with an annual fee on an average 10 lakhs ( range 6 to 15 Lakh per annum). So the whole package with hostel, security money, mess charges etc is around Rs 70 Lakh for MBBS !! So where are the chances for poor meritorious students to get into medical education on the basis of NEET? For that poor guy its same as PMT- either score good marks to get a cheap/affordable government seat or forget medical seat for that year.
Then Who profited from NEET?
1. The college management- The entire fee is in white now. No need to go for capitation or black money. The government itself permits them to charge the high fee by making committees. The current NEET system helps these colleges to get admissions by lowering percentile limit in case the seats get remain vacant. So these colleges are now somewhat more relaxed.
2. Government- As the layman doesn't have any idea of the game behind the medical entrance, so along with media, the government created a propaganda that NEET will only allow meritorious students which is not the case. Even 25- 30 % level students are into medicine now - so where's the merit? They have simply changed the rule of the game and then taking credit that they have revolutionized medical entrance.
3. Rich Students and Parents- Earlier, getting admission into a private medical college was not something "prestigious" with the "Donation" tag haunting them whole of their life. But now after NEET they have the euphoria of clearing NEET on "merit" even after obtaining 30 % marks in NEET !! So amount spent on whole MBBS course is same but now this came up with "respect and prestige" tag.
So, the purpose of NEET that meritorious students should not be left behind for getting admission in MBBS because of money issue is defined here. Poor students who just missed the government seats; skip the counseling further as they are not able to afford high fees of medical colleges. Thus, fewer merit holders but who can afford these fees get admissions easily.
Although percentile system has been adopted across the globe in various entrance examinations in various other fields, we cannot afford it in medicine where the question is of life and death. Only real hard working meritorious students having the minimum required intelligence, aptitude should be allowed to enter this noble profession.
So where's and what's the change by NEET for poor meritorious students?