The inaugural issue of the Common Universities Entrance Test (CUET) continues to face teething problems and in the process it has received a lot of flak ever since the test began three days ago. The students had to face huge problems such as sudden change of centres, which led to many students missing their exams.
Now there is a statement from UGC Chairperson that no retest would be allowed for the students who had missed their exams. Activists, parents and students are reacting angrily to it. Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS), an organization representing interests of government school students and marginalized groups has strongly condemned the statement.
CUET, it should be known, is an entrance exam which is being conducted by National Testing Agency (NTA) and which is based on the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) syllabus. Students from across the countries have applied for the exam to gain entrance to the 45 central universities, in addition to certain state universities and private institutions. It was also stated by the UGC Chairperson that no retest would be allowed for the students who had missed their exams. KYS strongly condemns this statement.
In a statement the organization said that CUET instead of providing level the playing field for aspirants across the country, is eyewash as the real purpose for the institution of CUET is to eliminate aspirants, not to ensure admission for them. It should be noted that the seats in central universities account for just 5% of the total seats across the country, and the competition for seats in premier institutions such as Delhi University is intense. But, the seats in these institutions are very limited, and more than 10 times the number of students have applied. The test would thus only serve to streamline a process of elimination, and reinforce exclusion in the name of entrance test.
These repeated changes within the admission procedure attempt to eclipse the underlying structural issue in premier public-funded higher education institutions: the acute shortage of seats. For instance, Delhi University has not opened any new colleges in the last couple of decades, due to which lacs of students are forced to opt for substandard ODL modes of higher education such as DU’s School of Open Learning (SOL) and Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). With a sharp spike in the number of aspirants for higher education, the need of the hour is to greatly increase expenditure on education and increase colleges and seats.
Moreover, the CUET also penalizes the students from government schools which follow the state education board syllabuses. The CUET is based on NCERT syllabus, and there are many domain subjects taught in state boards but have not been listed by the NTA. Thus, to prepare for the exam, the students would have to shell out money to private coaching institutes to prepare for the nearest compatible subject. The attempt to posit CUET as a solution to this structural crisis is a hogwash measure, which will inevitably encourage the proliferation of expensive private coaching institutes for admissions to public universities.
KYS strongly condemns the Union government for devising an exclusionary policy for admissions in the higher education sector. The youth organization demands that the number of seats in public-funded institutions, and the number of institutions should be increased, and evening shift should be started in all public-funded institutions, so as to ensure formal-mode education to the hitherto deprived students, and 20% Deprivation Points should be ensured to the government school students in the admission process of public-funded higher education institutions. KYS would intensify its struggle against the exclusionary admission policy and take it to the Union Education Ministry in the coming days.