Several opposition leaders including Congress' Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik, DMK President MK Stalin and Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia have demanded that the exams be postponed.
At least 74 per cent candidates who had registered for JEE-Mains appeared for the exam last week amid strict precautions in view of COVID-19 even as the attendance figures dipped from 94.32 per cent in the January session.
The Joint Entrance Exam (JEE)-Main for admission to engineering colleges across the country, is conducted twice a year.
According to statistics available with the Ministry of Education, out of 8.58 lakh applicants, 6.35 lakh appeared for the engineering test from September 1 to 6. The exam was conducted after being deferred twice in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“JEE-Main is held twice a year. The previous one was held in January this year. Several students who did not appear for the exam in September may have done well in the January exam and hence did not feel the need to sit for the exam this time. We are ascertaining those numbers,” said Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ in a tweet.
Last year, the attendance in the January and April edition of the exam was 94.11 per cent and 94.15 per cent respectively.
The crucial exam has been mired in controversy due to demand from a section of students and opposition parties to postpone the exam in view of rising coronavirus cases.
“Any further delay of the exams would not have been in the interest of our hardworking students and their plans for college admissions. Our government has always been unwavering regarding student welfare & student safety. We will always work for the interests of our youth,” Pokhriyal said.
However, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy raised concerns that the attendance is lower than the figure given by the Ministry of Education.
“The Ministry of Education stated to Supreme Court that candidates registered are 9.53 lakh at over 660 centres in India and abroad. Now the Minister states ‘facts’ as 8.58 lakhs. Now whose is official?,” Swamy tweeted.
The Supreme Court had earlier dismissed a plea seeking postponement of the two exams amid a spurt in the number of COVID-19 cases, saying a “precious year” of students cannot be wasted and life has to go on.
Based on the results of the JEE-Mains Paper 1 and Paper 2, the top 2.45 lakh candidates will be eligible to appear for the JEE-Advanced exam, which is a one-stop exam to get admission into the 23 premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). JEE-Advanced is scheduled to take place on September 27.
Several opposition leaders including Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik, DMK President MK Stalin and Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia have also demanded that the exams be postponed.