Wednesday, April 30, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Entrance tests: new flaws creep in

This refers to the editorial "PMT racket" (April 22), up to the mid 1980s, admissions to medical and engineering colleges used to be based on merit of the students in their pre-professional class. However, the mechanism of entrance tests for admission to professional courses was necessitated while addressing certain problems of the education system such as rampant copying, non-uniformity of the 10+2 syllabi of different school boards and varying evaluation standards. Under the conditions, it had become difficult to differentiate between genuine merit and a fake one. The introduction of entrance tests was welcomed by all, hoping that these would end biased entries into professional courses in colleges and universities and deserving students would not suffer. Unfortunately, with the passage of time the whole effort has degenerated into a mode of money fleecing at the hands of certain agencies almost turning into education mafia. It has resulted in an agonising exercise for students as well as parents.

Over the last few years, there has been an alarming increase in the number of entrance tests a student has to appear in. All this is being done by various organisations and universities in the name of creating their own resources of income and this is a direct fallout of the fact that institutions of higher education have been starved of essential funds for long by the respective governments. Ironically, the affairs of higher education are dictated here by those who have neither an understanding nor interest in higher education high on their list of priorities. In the process, the students get the impression that they can fight the battle of entrance tests only if they join some coaching academy where they are made to prepare largely the objective-tests based on multiple-choice questions (MCQs) which curtail thorough reading. During the whole cycle, they have hardly any time for self-study. Another casualty is the sanctity of classroom culture which I, as a teacher, believe has no substitute. At the same time, teaching has to be made as strong as it used to be in the past so that a complete takeover by teaching shops is prevented.


Besides, there are many flaws which have crept into the conduct of entrance tests. These are in regard to cases of impersonation and unreported copying, not to talk of inconsistencies in the academically unsound evaluation and computerisation of results. It is for the managers of educational institutions to look into these aspects and find a solution to purely administrative problems. Equally serious is the element of fluke in a candidate's performance, particularly where there is no negative marking. And it is the factor because of which the on-going system of entrance tests is dear to a section of the students.

The situation demands an urgent review to see whether the flaws of the old system have been removed or those have been replaced by new ones. During all these years nobody has bothered to gather any feedback from professional colleges and universities as to whether there was any improvement in the over all stuff and calibre of students they have admitted before and after the introduction of entrance tests. Are there any amendments to the present form of tests needed to evolve a better system? Or is it just a ritual to admit a few bundled students in professional courses on the basis of these entrance tests.

The overall merit for admission to the postgraduate courses and professional colleges must be determined by the performance both in the entrance test and the annual board examination.

Dr I.M. JOSHI, Department of Chemistry, PU, Chandigarh

Blow to confidence

The Tribune stunned academic circles by giving the news of "leakage of CBSE-PMT papers". It has shattered the faith and confidence of the poor and middle class sections of society who consider hard work can only give better placement to their children. Only strict rules and exemplary punishment can be a deterrent to dishonest officials and politicians who are responsible for such scandals.

Dr H.S. CHOPRA, Amritsar

Miscalculation or scam?

Every year Baba Farid University of Health Sciences conducts the PGET for admission to the P.G. courses in medical specialities. This year the exam for the 160 seats is scheduled for May 25 and the prospectus states the percentage of seats reserved for various categories, but the number of seats reserved do not tally with the percentage of reservation shown. For example, it shows 5 % reservation for the backward classes which comes to eight seats but only three seats have been reserved whereas the percentage of seats reserved for dependents of Army personnel and freedom fighters is 2% and 1% respectively amounting to five seats but no seat has been actually shown reserved for them.

On the other hand, there is a 2% reservation for dependents of Punjab Police and PAP personnel i.e. three seats, but the actual number of seats reserved for them is five of which four are seats in prime clinical subjects as was the case last year.

Is this a case of mathematical miscalculation or are some people being favoured?

Dr SIMRIT KAUR, Amritsar

Senior citizens at 60?

One is treated as a senior citizen at the age of 60 for (i) payment of 0.5 per cent higher rate of interest by banks (ii) travel concession by the Railways (iii) medical treatment in government hospitals (iv) the population census and (v) old age pension schemes!

But for matters relating to travel concession and income tax rebate, the cut-off age for the senior citizens is 65 years (with five years concession for the fair sex, of course). It is high time that the powers-that-be call an end to this dichotomy and fix 60 years as the cut-off age for classifying the senior citizens for all welfare measures.


Lathi rally: then & now

During the early 1990s I was going to Jagannath Puri along with my friends by train. En route to Puri, while in Bihar, we purchased a newspaper. There was a news item, "Laloo ne kaha tha lathi lei kar aiyo".

Mr Laloo Yadav had organised a rally in Bihar and asked his followers to bring lathis with them. All his followers attended the rally with lathis. While returning home they stopped trains and beat up passengers with their lathis. When passengers asked them the reason for such thrashing, the rallyist replied that Lalooji had asked them to bring lathis. They followed his advice. Now the rally had finished, but Lalooji did not tell them how and where to use the lathis. So they were making a good use of these. It was quite funny as a news item but quite horrible for the trapped passengers.

The electronic media is showing all types of preparation for Lalooji’s “Teil pilawan lathi ghumavan rally". Lathis are being purchased by followers and also being arranged by leaders of the RJD. They are preparing for the rally by dipping the lathis in mustard oil. Also buses are being hijacked, schools have been closed.

RAJESH KUMAR, Chandigarh

Polio drive

To fight polio, the government publicised that polio drops would be given to children all over the state on April 6. But I think the movement did not take off properly. In my own town I did not see any booth set up for the purpose. I contacted my relatives living in other parts of India, and the situation was the same everywhere. I believe something went wrong somewhere.

P.K. GUPTA, Bathinda
RAJESH KUMAR, Chandigarh


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