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Fighting coronavirus: Students fly to India to take exams despite Covid-19 concern

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on September 1, 2020 | Last updated on September 1, 2020 at 08.05 pm
Fighting, coronavirus, Students, fly to India, take exams, despite, Covid-19 concern

(Alamy Image)

The exam is open to non-resident Indians (NRIs) and these candidates have to take the exam in India only.

Scores of students from the UAE have travelled to India, amid strict quarantine protocols, to take the JEE and NEET examinations, the highly competitive entrance tests for engineering and medical schools in India.

The JEE examinations began on Tuesday. Ramesh Pokhriyal, India's Union Minister of Education, said it is being held to ensure that students do not miss an academic year amid the coronavirus.

The NEET is scheduled to take place on September 13. Earlier, it was to be held on July 26. However, after a barrage of requests from GCC parents and retired civil servant CV Ananda Bose, the tests were postponed.

The exam is open to non-resident Indians (NRIs) and these candidates have to take the exam in India only.

From the UAE, at least 800 students had expressed interest to write the NEET, according to Pankaj Bodkhe, Consul, economy and education at the Consulate General of India in Dubai.

However, many students from across the GCC have decided to skip the exams this year, said community leaders and parents of students who have been preparing for the examinations.

Vasu Sudhan, a Dubai resident whose niece is taking the exams this year, said: "The main issue is that students are mandated to undergo 14-day quarantine. My sister is a heart patient; she is taking a huge risk by travelling in these circumstances. They have to even come back after writing the exams."

Another parent, whose daughter has decided to wait till next year, asked: "Will colleges even open this year? It is already September. Admissions to medical colleges in India are purely based on entrance test results. Usually, students are supposed to join the medical school in August. The results for NEET will come only a few months from now. When are children supposed to start university then?"

A group of parents and students from the UAE appealed to India's Union Human Resources Development Ministry in June via the Consulate, requesting a testing centre to be set up in the UAE and other Gulf states as well. However, the requests were turned down by the ministry. The Supreme Court of India also ruled that the exams must take place this year. Neeraj Agarwal, Consul - Press, Information, and Culture - at the Consulate General of India in Dubai, said: "The ones who have decided to attempt the exams this year have already left for India."

Some parents wanted the exams to be held as scheduled. Dr George Jacob, a dermatologist whose daughter had left for Kerala to take the exams, said: "Students might end up forgetting what they have learnt if the tests keep getting postponed this way. If they do not write the exams this year, they will have to attempt it again next year with other students." 



Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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