Global climate change activist Greta Thunberg spoke out against India’s recent announcement to conduct the national entrance tests in September, saying that it is ‘deeply unfair’ to ask students to sit for exams amid pandemic.
The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) are two of the most vital public service exams conducted by the government of India to sieve out qualified professionals who would steer the nation’s public body.
But given the unprecedented time and circumstance, the scheduled exams were being dragged like most other exams, since public gathering pose an imminent threat for contacting the novel coronavirus, which is highly contagious.
As per the latest re-schedules, JEE is set to begin from September 1 -6 while NEET from September 13th, after the federal government declared there will be no further reschedules for the two public entrance tests, Times of India reported.
“It’s deeply unfair that students of India are asked to sit national exams during the Covid-19 pandemic and while millions have also been impacted by the extreme floods. I stand with their call to #PostponeJEE_NEETinCOVID,” the 18-year-old environmental activist wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
Disdain over exams amid a pandemic
This is not the only exam scheduled by the government that has received public criticism form different groups, over fears that large-scale public gatherings will invoke waves of new infections, as it has been seen in many cases.
A lawsuit is already ongoing in the Supreme Court filed by a coalition of students hailing from different Indian states to lift this year’s final University exams over pandemic concerns. States like West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Delhi have called against conducting final exams at the university level.
However, the University Grants Commission (UGC) – India’s graduation-level exam body – has been pushing to conduct final year university exams citing transparency and credibility for students in either online, offline, or mixed medium.
“It would be unsafe for students to visit test centers physically amid #COVID19 for JEE [Main] and NEET tests,” Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik said on twitter, opposing NEET and JEE 2020.
“Now with the directive of Ministry of Education to conduct NEET, JEE 2020 in September, I would again appeal to the Centre to assess the risk and postpone these examinations until the situation is conducive again,” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote on Twitter.
The Supreme court permitted the National Testing Agency to conduct the JEE and NEET in September, while India’s COVID-19 tally is on a steady rise.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 in India is the third-largest outbreak in the world with more than 3.17 million reported cases and nearly 60k fatalities as of August 26th, Wednesday, Federal health ministry data showed.
India’s growing number of cases can be partly attributed to the aggressive testing regime enacted by the government, sampling nearly 600 million people daily from August 1, Hindusthan Times reports.