NEET: dress code a burden

It is unfortunate and rather uncaring on the part of the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) to burden students sitting for the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) with a dress code. Even without such rules and regulations, youngsters are anxious while preparing for and writing exams. Apprehension increases when they are sitting for entrance exams to professional courses. In the circumstances, additional rules like dress codes are best avoided. According to the CBSE guidelines, students were told to wear half-sleeved shirts or tops of a light colour with their trousers/salwars. They had to wear slippers or low-heeled sandals. Big buttons and ornaments, including rings, bracelets, nose studs, broaches, earrings or badges were prohibited. Those in "customary dresses" were told to arrive earlier. The candidates were told not to bring communication devices like mobiles and Bluetooth as well as geometry/pencil boxes, handbags, watches or any metallic item into the hall. Not surprisingly, there was much confusion ahead of the exam on Sunday. Several students arrived at centres blissfully unaware of the dress code. There were no provisions for safely storing their watches or bangles. Consequently, students were agitated. There have been reports, too, of students being groped and even humiliated by security personnel.

The dress code was perhaps well-intentioned; the CBSE has been trying to conduct tests that are fair and free from mass copying, cheating and other irregularities. With students hiding information in their clothes and shoes or securing help from friends via communication devices, the CBSE decided on regulating what candidates wear and bring to the hall. The problem lay in the method chosen to prevent cheating. Couldn’t technology have been harnessed more efficiently to monitor students? Besides, though the dress code was made public a month ago, many candidates complained that they were not informed.

The CBSE has imposed dress codes on students earlier as well. And in previous years, too, the code created confusion and triggered anxiety. Last year, a student was asked to remove her inner wear. Is it right to put young women through this embarrassment? Could the CBSE share its thoughts on the matter? It is evident that security personnel at the examination centres don’t have a clue as to what is required of them. The CBSE needs to do away with dress codes. This is a bizarre solution to the problem. Instead of restricting what students wear, CBSE must use technology to check what students are carrying, monitor them throughout the exam and perhaps jam internet and phone lines. Importantly, security personnel, as well as invigilators, should be alerted on what they should look for and prevent.

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NEET: dress code a burden

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