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West Bengal has now opted to continue with the NEET (National Entrance cum Eligibility Test) for this year.

This move by West Bengal government comes after the video conference between the Centre and the State Representatives, wherein the centre communicated its decision to maintain standardization in the NEET question papers and that the regional language question papers of the next year would be a mere translation of the English rendition.

The 2017 NEET exam was caught up in a controversy with claims that the English question paper was more straightforward as compared to other regional language versions, including Bengali.

In his conversation with ‘Metro’, West Bengal Education Minister Mr Partha Chatterjee had previously conveyed that the State Government was “exploring all possibilities” to take a leaf out of Tamil Nadu’s book and keep his state outside the scope of NEET for a year.  He had also shown an inclination towards passing a legislation before taking up this issue with the Centre.

Tamil Nadu Health Minister, Mr C. Vijayabhaskar has previously passed an ordinance to this effect and forwarded it to the Centre. This was done in wake of the NEET 2017 results, wherein most of the students from rural areas, studying in state affiliated schools, failed to crack the NEET exam.

Debasish Bhattacharya, Director of Medical education, released his statement- “We have to give them (the Centre) a year to see whether they can develop a mechanism that takes care of our students. So we are not pursuing the plan of holding a separate test” He also disclosed that officials of the HRD ministry had tried to redress grievances of the states in the video conference.

On May 8, Education Minister, Mr. Chatterjee had submitted a grievance to the CBSE Board, citing the disadvantages the West Bengal students had faced in NEET 2017. In response to this letter, the Union HRD Minister, Mr. Prakash Javadekar assured that henceforth, NEET question papers in regional languages would be directly translated from the English version.

Sources in the West Bengal Education Department have divulged that the State Government thinks it is wise to give the Centre at least an year before making any amendments. Also, an official from the higher education department confirmed,“Besides we have not initiated any measure like passing a legislation or introducing an ordinance that could allow us to hold a test on our own.”

Another official from the higher education department admitted that ‘all the four students who stood among the top 50 were from the CBSE Board and only few students from the State Board could crack NEET because of the mismatch in the English and Regional Language question papers.’

Meanwhile, Mr. Debasish Bhattacharya has said that although a representative had taken part in the discussion, he has no inkling of what the Tamil Nadu government plans to do following the video conference with the Centre.

In other news, the state JEE Board will be conducting the engineering entrance exam on 22nd April 2018.

Source: The Telegraph, 25th October 2017

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