As many as 1,633 students out of 6,692 students from government and aided schools in Tamil Nadu have cleared the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) 2020. These are candidates who were attempting the examination for the first time this year and had attended the free coaching provided by the State government through the year.
Four students from government-aided schools have scored over 500 marks, and 14 students from government-aided schools and one student from a government school have scored between 400 to 500 marks, data made available by the School Education Department indicated.
In 2019, only two students from government-aided schools had scored above 400 marks and no students from government institutions had scored above 500 marks.
A senior official of the School Education Department said that this year, more students had scored better than the previous years. “There are 71 students, who include four students from the Tamil medium branch, who have scored between 300 and 400 marks. This is a definite improvement from last year,” he said.
While the Education Department annually conducts a month-long residential crash course programme, ‘Thoduvanam’, it was done away with this year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and an online free coaching programme was introduced. Students like S. Achuthan from Tiruchi depended on this online coaching entirely. “They provided a mobile application called E-Box with explainer videos and daily tests. When I had doubts, I could go back to that specific video,” he said.
For some other students, a mix of the coaching provided by the government as well as self-study worked. R. Aishwarya, a resident of Poondi Village in Ranipet district, who scored 353 marks in the examination, said that she mainly relied on self-study.
N.D. Keren Luxia Mai, a student of the Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Othakkadai who scored 320 in examination, said the online classes were out of reach for many government school students. “Many of my friends did not have smartphones and hence they couldn’t attend the online classes. There were also some difficulties in understanding classes that were held in English” she said.
In districts like Madurai, the Education Department stepped in to help students with phone data recharge to attend classes.
K.P.O. Suresh, president, Tamil Nadu Post Graduate Teachers Association, said there were still concerns that had to be addressed with regard to effective coaching. “We are hoping that there is a positive outcome to the quota being asked for government school students in the MBBS seat intake to ensure that they have a level playing field,” he added.
Apart from the crash course which is conducted in the run-up to NEET for these students, there are free weekend coaching classes conducted in their schools from September. “This year, however, there is no word on when this coaching will begin for students… If we want students to do better, we should keep the momentum going right from the start,” said a teacher from a government school.
(With inputs from P.A. Narayani, Vivek Narayanan and Kathele Antony)