CBSE directs NEET aspirants to MCI on NIOS queries

CBSE directs NEET aspirants to MCI on NIOS queries
Ashish Jha | Feb 20, 2018 - 3:05 p.m. IST
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New Delhi, Feb 20: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has excused itself from responding to NIOS students’ queries about their eligibility status for NEET, declaring that it is only responsible for holding the examination and that determining the NEET eligibility criteria is under the purview of the Medical Council of India (MCI).

“Many queries are being received on the eligibility criteria from candidates who passed from open school, (as) private candidates, etc. Such candidates are advised to follow the instructions given by MCI. CBSE has no role to play in it. Therefore no reply to any such query on eligibility condition will be given by CBSE,” states the additional FAQs document released by the CBSE on February 15, 2018. These FAQs were released in response to the grievances sent by numerous candidates to the CBSE until February 14, 2018. 

Earlier, through the official NEET notification released by the CBSE after considerable delay on February 8, 2018, the NIOS students were rendered ineligible from appearing in NEET 2018, the national level medical entrance exam of India. The rationale behind this decision, taken by the MCI in its executive committee meeting held on September 26, 2017, was that NIOS and private candidates did not undergo classroom training including practical examinations in Classes 11 and 12 and hence were not at par with students enrolled in a regular and continuous schooling system.

Following the release of the NEET notification, it was learnt that a letter sent by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) dated February 1, 2018, had recommended to the MCI that it withdraw the move to bar NIOS students from NEET 2018. The letter, framed after discussions with CBSE and Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), had reiterated that NIOS is a recognized qualification in the country and had been granted recognition and equivalence with other Indian boards way back in 1991. “Excluding NIOS qualification from NEET will be unreasonable and unjustified. Therefore, the council is requested to reconsider its decision of excluding the NIOS students from appearing in NEET (UG) and convey the same to this ministry,” read the MoHFW letter. It is worth noting that no official reply to this letter has yet been issued by the MCI. It is also being speculated that the week’s delay which occurred in the release of the NEET 2018 notification was due to the fact that the CBSE was still waiting for the MCI to respond to the MoHFW letter so that it could convey the final eligibility status of NIOS students accordingly.

Despite this lack of consensus amidst authorities, the MCI’s stand on barring NIOS and distance learning students from NEET has been firm for quite some time now. It was on August 8, 2017, that the MCI first barred NIOS students from getting an eligibility certificate for MBBS courses in foreign countries. The logic given was “any candidate who has not undergone classroom training in the subjects of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and English simultaneous and co-terminus including taking practical examination in class 11 and 12 is not eligible for grant of Eligibility Certificate for the purpose of seeking admission in primary medicine course in a foreign medical institute...”. Subsequently, in the September 26 meeting, it decided to extend this reasoning to eligibility for MBBS courses in India as well, deciding that “the learners from NIOS would not be on par with those from the regular mode. Resultantly, they would be ineligible for NEET on equitable bases...” In an unrelated decision, the MoHFW had also recently confirmed that qualifying NEET would be a mandatory requirement for any candidate seeking to pursue MBBS outside India, as without this, they will not be allowed to practise or study further in the country.

With less than a month remaining for the NEET 2018 applications to close, the controversy surrounding the ineligibility of NIOS students looks set to reach the Supreme Court, with education activists on the verge of filing a petition demanding for a final resolution on this lack of consensus between the MoHFW and the MCI and for the inclusion of open school students in NEET 2018.  

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