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Centre forms 7-member panel to ensure fair conduct of exams; Education Minister calls it 'first step to...'

The expert committee will have to submit its report to the Education Ministry within two months. The government's move comes as the students were marred by repeated paper leaks of top exams in the country.

Edited By: Ashesh Mallick @asheshmallick07 New Delhi Updated on: June 22, 2024 22:06 IST
Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan
Image Source : PTI Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan

The Union Ministry of Education has constituted a high-level committee of experts to ensure transparent, smooth and fair conduct of examinations. The move comes as the row over paper leaks of various top exams, including NEET-UG and UGC NET, which was cancelled a day after its conduct, continues for over a week.

Who are the experts in the panel?

Dr K Radhakrishnan, Former Chairman, ISRO and Chairman BoG, IIT Kanpur, will head the panel of 7 experts. Other members of the panel include: Dr. Randeep Guleria, Former Director, AIIMS Delhi, Prof. B J Rao, Vice Chancellor, Central University of Hyderabad, Prof. Ramamurthy K, Professor Emeritus, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras, Pankaj Bansal, Co-Founder, People Strong and Board Member- Karmayogi Bharat, Prof. Aditya Mittal, Dean Student Affairs, IIT Delhi, Govind Jaiswal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Education.

What will the committee do?

The Ministry of Education, in a statement, said that in order to ensure transparent, smooth and fair conduct of examinations through National Testing Agency (NTA), Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education constituted a high-level committee of experts to make recommendations on reform in mechanism of examination process, improvement in Data Security protocols, structure and functioning of National Testing Agency 

The Terms of Reference of the committee are:

1. Reform in mechanism of examination process

  • To analyse the end-to-end examination process and suggest measures to improve efficiency of the system and to forestall any possible breach.
  • To conduct a thorough review of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)/Protocols of the NTA, and suggest measures to strengthen these procedures/protocols along with monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance at every level.

2. Improvement in Data Security protocols

To evaluate the existing data security processes and protocols of NTA and recommend measures for its improvement.

To examine existing security protocols related to the paper-setting and other processes for different examinations and make recommendations to enhance robustness of system.

3. Structure and functioning of National Testing Agency

  • To make recommendations on the organizational structure and functioning of the National Testing Agency (NTA) for implementation of recommendations given under point (1) and (2) and clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of functionaries at every level.
  • Assess the current Grievance Redressal Mechanism of the NTA, identify areas of improvement and make recommendations for enhancing its efficiency.

Education Minister reacts

Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan reacted to the government's move and said that it is the first step to put an end to all malpractices and "reform the NTA".

"Transparent, tamper-free and zero-error examinations is a commitment. Setting up of the high-level committee of experts is the first of a series of step to improve efficiency of the examination process, put an end to all possible malpractices, strengthen data security protocols and overhaul and reform the NTA. Student interests and their bright future will always be our govt’s top priority," he posted on X.

UGC Chairman reacts

UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar said, "Forming a High-Level Committee of Experts with Dr K. Radhakrishnan as Chairman is a welcome step towards assuring entrance examinations' transparent, smooth and fair conduct. The Committee's emphasis on recommending reforms in the examination process, enhancing data security protocols, and improving the NTA's structure and functioning will strengthen our national entrance examination system. Protecting student's interests and their future is our top priority."

Row over paper leaks

The NEET examination was held on May 5 across 4,750 centres and around 24 lakh candidates appeared for it. The results were expected to be declared on June 14 but were announced on June 4, saying the evaluation of the answer sheets was completed earlier.

As many as 67 students scored a perfect 720, unprecedented in the NTA's history, with six from a centre in Haryana's Faridabad figuring in the list, raising suspicions about irregularities. It has been alleged that grace marks contributed to 67 students sharing the top rank. The NEET-UG examination is conducted by the NTA for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH and other related courses in government and private institutions across the country.

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday (June 20) disclosed the reason behind the cancellation of UGC-NET, stating that the decision to call off the exam was taken after it was found that the question paper was leaked on darknet.

Fresh plea in SC seeks CBI, ED enquiry into NEET-UG exam

A fresh plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the CBI and the ED to investigate alleged irregularities in the medical entrance exam NEET-UG held on May 5. The petition, filed by 10 students who had appeared for the exam, has also sought a direction to Bihar Police to expedite the investigation in the case and file a report before the apex court. "The petitioners are fully aware of the ramifications of the cancellation of the examination but there is absolutely no other alternative.

"The NEET UG Examination of 2024 had many other irregularities, in particular, the gross negligence on the part of the authorities to make the question papers available to the candidates on time. In some places, the wrong set of question papers was distributed and later recalled," the plea said.

(With inputs from agencies)

 

ALSO READ | UGC-NET examination papers sold for Rs 5-6 lakh, says CBI investigation

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