State to take call on holding CET exam within a week

Education Dept. to study feasibility of setting up exam centres at taluka and district levels

A decision on conducting the Maharashtra State Common Entrance Test (MHT-CET) will be taken in the next seven or eight days after the government studies the feasibility of setting up exam centres at taluka and district levels, State Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant said in Pune on Thursday.

Over five lakh candidates have registered for the exam, which determines admissions to 14 technical and professional courses. Mr. Samant said, “We are trying to work out the logistics. Can we get five-and-a-half lakh students to centres at taluka, district or divisional levels? We also have to see if exams can be held by taking precautions such as physical distancing to ensure the health and safety of students. Once authorities submit their feasibility assessments over the next week, we can take a decision in consultation with them.”

The minister said several schools and hostels have been requisitioned as quarantine centres and the Education Department is considering giving students entry on the basis of marks obtained in the Class XII Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exams.

Mr. Samant said, “Even in this case, there are a number of factors that have to be taken into account. Generally, students study harder and prepare more intensely for cracking the CET than the Class XII HSC exams. So it would be unfair if entry is given only on the basis of Class XII marks. All these variables have to be considered before the government takes a concrete decision.”

The lack of clarity over the conduct of CET exams has left students in a limbo. Similar confusion prevails among students awaiting word on their final year exams. Mr. Samant said, “The State government is firm on not holding the final year exams in view of the COVID-19 crisis. The Department of Higher and Technical Education has told the Bombay High Court that it is dangerous from the point of view of the safety of students to hold the final year exams.”

The minister also clarified that this decision does not mean that the State government is not in favour of conducting the exams. He said that a Teachers’ Training Academy would be set up in Pune by December 1 to equip teachers of all schools across Maharashtra.

Mr. Samant hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for criticising the State government over the “unconventional appointment” of first-time Minister and Shiv Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray as chairman of a panel to suggest nominees for the Padma awards. The BJP said Mr. Thackeray was too inexperienced to head the panel.

Mr. Samant said, “Some people are allergic to the Thackeray name, while some are struggling to stay relevant. Rather than raise objections over Aaditya Thackeray’s youthfulness, they ought to understand it is merit, and not age, that counts in politics.”

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