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Tamil Nadu Academics, Students Term CUET ‘Regressive’, Exclusive

The proposed common entrance test will ‘restrict’ socially and economically backward students from accessing education.

SFI members of the Central University of Tamil Nadu protest the proposed Common University Entrance Test.

After opposing the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), Tamil Nadu has vociferously opposed the proposed Common University Entrance Test (CUET). Political parties, academicians and student unions have accused the Centre of interfering in the state without consultation or discussion. The entrance tests are part of the National Education Policy (NEP), announced by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

The Tamil Nadu government has alleged that CUET—based on the National Council of Education Research and Training syllabus—will deny an equal opportunity to students enrolled with schools following different syllabi across the country, undermine the school education system and fuel the growth of coaching centres. 

Terming CUET “regressive”, chief minister MK Stalin moved a resolution against the Centre’s proposal in the Assembly on April 11 with all the other parties, including the opposition All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), voting in favour and the BJP walking out.

According to the resolution, CUET would undermine the importance of school education and help the mushrooming of coaching centres. Just like NEET, CUET will also undermine the importance of school education. Such tests will force the students to shift their concentration towards coaching instead of learning,” said Prince Gajendra Babu, general secretary, State Platform for Common School System, told Newsclick

The BJP floor leader claimed that such entrance tests would ensure education for meritorious students and be optional for states. 

The National Testing Agency will conduct CUET, which was earlier known as Central Universities Common Entrance Test, at 45 Central, state and deemed-to-be universities. Academicians and student unions fear the test will destroy the university system. “The Union government is trying to destroy the university system through the NEP. The government is trying to restrict universities as institutes of higher education,” Babu alleged.

S Mariappan, state secretary, Students Federation of India (SFI), called for caution against the Centre’s approach. “The universities face the threat of becoming irrelevant given the introduction of such entrance tests. The school education system needs to be promoted to improve critical learning but government policies are taking us in the reverse direction,” he told Newsclick

Babu flagged the worry that more students will join coaching centres to crack the test. “Only students who can spend money on coaching will get access to higher education. This will adversely affect socially and economically backward sections, who will be deprived of further educated and employment.” Students from several states, including Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan, will “soon be affected by the introduction of CUET since many of them belong to marginalised sections”, he added.

The SFI protested against CUET in front of the Central University of Tamil Nadu, Tiruvarur, on April 11 alleging that it is regressive.

Academics have alleged that the government is trying to rope in private and deemed-to-be universities to accept the entrance test. “The government and the higher education department are trying to convince universities by stating that CUET is linked to grant allocation and accreditation. They continue to literally threaten universities with losing out on student welfare if they do not accept CUET,” Babu alleged.

The uniqueness and diversity of the education system will end due to such centralised moves of the BJP government. All the sections of the population must oppose the move,” Mariappan said.

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