The NIOS called the MCI's decision 'unfortunate and discriminatory'.
The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has termed the Medical Council of India's (MCI) decision to barring its students from taking the NEET from this year as unfortunate and discriminatory.
The medical education regulator's decision has "jeopardised" the interests of the thousands of meritorious students who have got a senior secondary certificate from the NIOS after clearing the class XII examination, a senior official of the open school told DH.
Around 2,950 students of NIOS registered for the national eligibility-cum-entrance test (NEET) in 2017. Out of them, 2,710 students took the nation-wide test and 864 of them were declared qualified last year.
About 500 NIOS students also cleared the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) last year. Many of NIOS students have cleared JEE-Advanced and have got admission in Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in the past, the official added.
"There is absolutely no reason to debar the NIOS students from taking the NEET when the MCI had already given recognition to our senior secondary (Class XII) certificates in 2012. It is not out of place to mention here that we evaluate the learners more vigorously than any other formal board," the NIOS official said.
The NIOS, which offers education up to pre-degree level through open and distance learning mode, follows the "same syllabus" for classes XI and XII as followed by any other board including the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
While the board examinations conducted by the regular secondary school examination board covers the syllabus of Class XII only, the NIOS students take their class XII board examinations covering syllabus of Classes XI and XII both.
"Practicals are performed by the students in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Classroom training in Physics, Chemistry and Biology are also provided as personal contact programme only in the CBSE or state board affiliated schools," the official said.
The NIOS, set up as an autonomous body under the HRD ministry, is the only national-level organisation providing "educational access," from elementary to senior secondary, to all those who are outside the formal education system since 1979. Its operation was first started as "a project with in-built flexibilities" by the CBSE and later made an autonomous body under the HRD ministry in 1990 to carry forward the government's mandate.
"I am very pained with the MCI's decision. We made representations before the MCI but it's sad they have not taken care of our students. I am not speaking against the Government. It's about safeguarding the interests of our students. It's less privileged students who enroll with the open schools," the NIOS chairman CB Sharma told DH.