Coronavirus: Parents call on India to hold medical entrance exams in UAE

Many students in the UAE had opted for centres in different states in India while sending their applications

  
Indian middle schoolgirl works on class assignment at school. She is wearing a school uniform. She is looking at something in a book. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Indian middle schoolgirl works on class assignment at school. She is wearing a school uniform. She is looking at something in a book. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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UAE - Parents of students looking to take the NEET exam - the gateway to medical colleges in India - are pushing for a test centre in the UAE. The need is gaining urgency as there is mounting uncertainty over travel restrictions and different quarantine protocols in various Indian states due to the Covid-19 situation.

Many students in the UAE had opted for centres in different states in India while sending their applications. But now, the extended periods of lockdown in various zones in Mumbai and parts of Tamil Nadu is now becoming a big cause for concern.

Hundreds of parents in the UAE have signed an online petition requesting to organise the medical entrance exams here. The exam is scheduled to be held on July 26.

Dr Rajeev Gopalkrishnan's daughter Gauri has been preparing for the undergraduate medical courses' entrance exam for almost two years now. While the exam has already been postponed in May, he says that further postponement may not be the fitting solution.

"The trouble of travelling to India and the different quarantine rules in each state poses a challenge in itself. Besides, my daughter has chosen two centres - in Karnataka and Kerala. Even if we book tickets on chartered flights, we can't be travelling to different states. Different children have opted for different test centres. Besides, the UAE has contained the Covid-19 situation well. What if our children get infected while in India? So our appeal is let's have an exam centre here for the UAE students. "

Anxious parents have written to the National Testing Agency (NTA) that conducts the exams. They have also communicated their grievances to different bodies like the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Health Ministry and even approached the Prime Minister's Office in India. Students are also worried they might lose a year if they are unable to travel in time for the latest NEET.

"Even within India, there are restrictions that are different in different states. Travel and stay in India will be very tough to arrange in time for the exam," said Jaya Gandhi, another parent.

"Each day is increasingly becoming stressful for our children. Assuming parents and children do successfully manage to travel to India, getting back to the UAE may become an issue. Parents, who have their jobs here, may get stuck in India for long."

Travel and quarantine guidelines differ

Naveen Dev Karan, whose daughter has chosen test centre in their home state Himachal Pradesh, opines there is no international airport in Shimla and Hamirpur. "One of the closest airports for my daughter would be Chandigarh. With travel and quarantine guidelines changing from state to state, students will be all the more worried and distracted. Even if they travel, it's risky because of the virus. Therefore, we earnestly request for only one centre in any of the emirates here."

No information, admit card received

Many children are yet to receive a notification on which is the confirmed test centre for their children.

Al Ain resident Nirupama Jena's son Sai Shraeyas is in a state of dilemma as like everyone else - he still awaits his admit card for the exam.

"It's already July and we haven't yet received the hall ticket and the confirmation on the centre. Students are given three preferred options for selecting their examination centre. Therefore, children haven't yet booked their flight tickets. What if we get to know of the centre really late and then if there are no available flight tickets to our chosen destination? Or even if we do manage to get the flight tickets, then the 14 days quarantine period in India may overlap with the examination date. In such a situation, the children are bound to miss their exams," said Nirupama.

"We need urgent communication and more clarity on this front. To avoid any confusion like the JEE exams which are to be held between July 18 and 23, it is best to have a centre in the UAE for NEET as well. Some children take both NEET and JEE exams. In the given situation, pupils can't be travelling back and forth repeatedly for different exams in different countries, she added."

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