The Tamil Nadu government, in an attempt to cover up its failure in updating the state board syllabus for the last ten years, has now pitted CBSE and State board students against one and other. The government has decided to reserve 85% of the medical seats available in the state for state board applicants. This would mean that 15% of the seats would be available for the all-India quota, the remaining seats would be reserved for state-board students.
According to a ToI report, of the TN students who studied biology in Class XII, 3.46 lakh students were from the state board while 4,675 students belonged to the CBSE.
Only 83,859 of them wrote NEET, and of these applicants only 32,570 qualified in the admission for MBBS courses, giving the state an overall pass percentage of 38.84%. While the exact number of CBSE students who attempted or passed the exam is not known, it clearly seems to be enough to get the state government riled up.
One health department official told ToI, "Of the 80,000 TN students who wrote NEET, at least 90% were from the state board. However, 50% of the questions asked in NEET were out-of-syllabus for the state board students."
And thatâ€™s because the Tamil Nadu government has not updated the curriculum for the state board schools in over a decade, putting their students at a disadvantage in competitive exams.
Now, students who studied in the CBSE stream believe they will pay the price for it.
"It is absolutely ridiculous," says Sai Nandan, a 17-year-old CBSE student who has written the NEET exam. "If 85% of the remaining seats go to State board students, then CBSE students will be left at the mercy of private institutions. Even those who have performed well will not get a seat in a government medical college," he adds.
Several students fear that this could lead to higher capitation fees in private institutes, making it impossible to even apply there.
"All we are asking is to be given a fair chance. We have also worked very hard and have aspirations," laments Indrajeet, who has written NEET. "Why don't we deserve a seat in a government college?" he asks.
Even students and parents who studied in the state board allege that the government is attempting to find a temporary solution for a larger challenge.
Experts however believe that the attempt to reserve 85% seats for state board students will not withstand the scrutiny of law.
"How will the Medical Council of India even accept something like this? The state failed to update its syllabus and is now trying to find ways to amend this is with impractical proposals," says Ramalingam, a senior advocate.
"This is against the right to equality before law and equal opportunities," Ramalingam says. "You cannot allow such preferential treatment. Education is in the concurrent list and if they want to bring about this move, it requires the assent of the President," he adds.