The AIADMK in the Lok Sabha today opposed centralised entrance test for medical and engineering courses and demanded that state governments be allowed to hold such examinations. When M Thambui Durai (AIADMK), who is also the Deputy Speaker, raised the issue, several members cutting across party lines supported him by thumping on their tables. Raising the issue during Question Hour, Thambi Durai said since the National Testing Agency will hold entrance tests twice a year, students would spend more time preparing for it than concentrate on their Class XII syllabus.
He said such joint or combined tests only help elites get through. He said shortage of doctors in rural areas is because states are not allowed to hold tests. HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said a total of 24 lakh students take the JEE and NEET entrance exams (12 lakh each). State governments hold other tests and nearly 1.50 crore students appear in those tests. Responding to a supplementary, Javadekar clarified that the entrances to be held by the National Testing Agency will not be "online" but only "computer-based" where students will have to reply on already downloaded answer sheets using mouse.
He said Internet connection could be an issue in some areas, therefore, the test will not be in online format. He said the government is also considering allowing students take the test using paper answer sheets during the transitional first year. Students, he said, can take training to appear for the computer-based test. The HRD Minister also said questions were raised about the "non-scientific" manner in which papers are set in different board and university tests.