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NEET exam row: We take responsibility, says Dharmendra Pradhan, calls it 'institutional failure' of NTA

In the case of NEET, Pradhan said that the government had to keep in mind the future of meritorious students, and that the government is working on the case by keeping in touch with Bihar Police.
Last Updated : 20 June 2024, 14:56 IST

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New Delhi: Facing mounting pressure over the irregularities in the NEET exam, union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday said that the Centre is forming a high-level committee to investigate the functioning of the National Testing Agency. Calling the incident in Bihar where two aspirants confessed to paying for question papers an “isolated” one, Pradhan said that scrapping the NEET exam was not a possibility keeping in mind the aspirations of lakhs of students. He said that it was the “institutional failure” of the NTA, and that he took moral responsibility for the mess.

“Cancelling the NET-UG exam was a painful and unfortunate decision and as a minister and parent, I do not have the words. This is an institutional failure of the NTA and I take moral responsibility for the failure,” Pradhan said.

Pradhan also said that the UGC-NET entrance exams were scrapped on Wednesday after the home ministry found evidence of the question papers being circulated in the dark net and across Telegram channels. He said that investigations in the NEET exam leaks are underway, and unlike the NET exams, a CBI probe has not yet been started.

“In the context of the NEET exam, we are in touch with the Bihar government; we are receiving information from Patna Police who are investigating. A detailed report will be submitted by them to the Centre. Following credible information, strict action will be taken against those found guilty,” Pradhan said.

“As per the initial information, the errors are contained to specific regions,” he added.

The minister said that the committee, which will look at the structure, functioning, examination process, transparency and security protocols of the NTA will consist of people with backgrounds as technocrats, scientists, education administrators, academicians, psychologists. “We are committed to having a zero-error examination process,” he said.

Pradhan said that there is a difference between the NEET and NET exams, and that’s why one was scrapped and the other is not yet. “The UGC-NET exam was cancelled after the I4C section of the home ministry informed the UGC Chairperson at 3pm on Wednesday that questions papers were found on the darknet. Some of these questions were distributed in Telegram. Tracking and regulating messages on the platform in the absence of laws is a challenge in itself,” he said.

In the case of NEET, Pradhan said that the government had to keep in mind the future of meritorious students, and that the government is working on the case by keeping in touch with Bihar Police.

Responding to a charge on why there were so many toppers this time – 67 before the scrapping of grace marks as opposed to 4-5 per year – Pradhan said that the questions were based on class 12 syllabus to give an opportunity to meritorious students in rural areas. “During COVID, NCERT and CBSE had reduced the syllabus and it was a challenge for us to reduce suicides among aspirants. So, the questions were set around class 12 level of understanding to help students who cannot generally compete,” he added.

Pradha also said that in the NET exams, the mode was changed from CBD to OMR by the examination authority, and that both methods are well-established and tested.

Protests have broken out across the country over the irregularities and the matter has also been taken to court over various issues – paper leaks as well as the awarding of grace marks.

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Published 20 June 2024, 14:56 IST

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