In letter to CM, he says decision to do away with Common Entrance Test has not achieved its purpose
Former Anna University Vice Chancellor E. Balagurusamy has appealed to Chief Minister M. K. Stalin to introduce Common Entrance Test (CET) for admission to engineering programmes in the State.
In a letter referring to a recent survey showing the poor employability skills of engineering graduates, Mr. Balagurusamy explained the need for CET.
He argued that the objective for which the CET was abolished had not been achieved. The CET had been abolished citing inaccessibility to private ‘coaching’ classes for poor students. Instead, the reverse had happened, he said.
In the past 15 years, it had led to undesirable consequences, including emphasis on rote learning, which prevented students from taking competitive exams such as Joint Entrance Examination or National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test.
As schools ignore Class 11 subjects, students have no grasp of fundamentals in science and mathematics and lacked thinking, problem-solving skills. On their part, schools indulged in unethical methods to boost Class 12 marks of students, he felt.
Besides, high private coaching fees prevented students from joining such schools.
When such students joined Anna University and its affiliated colleges, as much as 60% of them failed in the first semester, he pointed out.
This was borne out by the fact that, in 2018, of the 482 colleges affiliated to Anna University in 75 colleges, the pass percentage was in single digits and in over 50% colleges fewer than 25% had passed. Over 85% of the colleges had less than 50% pass percentage and in less than 12% of colleges, the pass percentage was over 50%. Six colleges presented with zero pass percentage, he said.
The aim of CET is to select capable students with an aptitude for engineering, Mr. Balagurusamy explained.
“When we admit students who are not capable, they have low probability of completing the course. We will do more harm to poor students who cannot successfully complete the programme than by not admitting them,” he said.
An entrance test would not only judge a student’s knowledge and intelligence required for the course but also assess if the student possesses the necessary aptitude to succeed in the course.
Issues such as poor quality colleges, unscrupulous college managements and absence of proper quality control and monitoring mechanisms added to the problems.
He cited a study by an organisation called Aspiring Minds, which rated employability of graduates from Tamil Nadu as lowest among States in the country in the IT, BPO and IT products sector.
“The onus of creating social justice rests squarely on the school system, which must orient itself to address the issue of educational discrimination of certain communities. Removing the CET has not in any way corrected the social, economic and educational bias in favour of the rich and urban students as they continue to get access to quality ‘private’ coaching schools,” he said.
What is urgently needed is an efficient affirmative action plan, he said.
“A robust admission system with a minimum level of marks in entrance exam, reorienting the school education system, revamping the examination system, and improving the quality of government schools is the way forward,” Mr. Balagurusamy argued.
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