The Joint Admission Board’s (JAB) decision to conduct the Joint Entrance Examination-Advanced (JEE-Adv) online from the next year is likely to cost students from small towns and villages aspiring to join premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT).
While most city students seem to be okay giving the test online, experts are worried that the format may prove to be the biggest disadvantage for students from rural India. “It is an assumption that all IIT aspirants come to bigger cities to prepare for the entrance exam. The fact is, maximum students come from rural parts of the country and this decision will affect them technically and psychologically,” said Praveen Tyagi, founder and director, IITians PACE, a coaching institute.
A few even expressed displeasure over the JAB’s decision to implement this change the next year itself.
“When it comes to competitive exams such as JEE, for which students start preparing for two years in advance, any change should be discussed at least two years in advance before implementation. This will prevent anxiety among students,” said Vinay Kumar, MD and CEO of Rao IIT Academy, another coaching institute.
He added that several students from rural India will suffer owing to lack of basic computer facilities. “How will they prepare for the 2018 exam? The decision has not been thought through,” Rao said.
This year, the JEE-Mains was conducted both offline and online. But only 10% of the 13.5 lakh students opted for the online format of the exam. The top 2.2 lakh students, who became eligible for JEE-Adv after clearing the JEE-Mains, appeared for the exam using the pen-paper format.
“Somehow, several errors crept in this format, eventually forcing the IITs to announce 18 bonus marks to all the students this year. Once the exam goes online, it’ll be easier to avoid such errors,” said a JAB official.
While the JAB also announced a three-day workshop to train students to help them understand the online examination concept, many feel it will not be helpful.
“The students from rural India, who have been training for the past 18 months in the pen-paper format will be the biggest losers. Knowing that maximum students applying for IITs are from socially and economically backward classes, this move might just introduce a larger class of divide in the IITs,” Tyagi said.