Centre sets up panel to reform exams, review NTA

NEW DELHI, 22 Jun: Amid a row over irregularities in competitive exams NEET and NET, the education ministry on Saturday notified a seven-member panel, headed by former ISRO chief K Radhakrishnan, to ensure transparent, smooth and fair conduct of examinations through the National Testing Agency (NTA).

“Transparent, tamper-free and zero-error examinations are a commitment. Setting up of the high-level committee of experts is the first of a series of steps to improve the efficiency of the examination process, put an end to all possible malpractices, strengthen data security protocols, and overhaul and reform the NTA,” union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.

“Students’ interests and their bright future will always be our government’s top priority,” he added.

The ministry’s notification comes two days after Pradhan announced the setting up of the committee.

The panel will make recommendations on reforms in the mechanism of the examination process, improvement in data security protocols, and the structure and functioning of the NTA. It is supposed to submit its report within two months.

The panel also includes former AIIMS Delhi director Randeep Guleria, Central University of Hyderabad Vice-Chancellor BJ Rao, IIT Madras Civil Engineering Department Professor Emeritus K Ramamurthy, People Strong co-founder and Karmayogi Bharat board member Pankaj Bansal, IIT Delhi Student Affairs Dean Aditya Mittal, and Education Ministry Joint Secretary Govind Jaiswal.

“The panel will analyse the end-to-end examination process and suggest measures to improve efficiency of the system and to forestall any possible breach. It will conduct a thorough review of the standard operating procedures and protocols of the NTA, and suggest measures to strengthen these procedures and protocols along with monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance at every level,” the eduction ministry said in a statement.

The committee has also been tasked with examining the existing security protocols related to the setting of the papers and other processes for different examinations and making recommendations to enhance the robustness of the system.

The NTA, which is under fire over the lapses in the conduct of the NEET and the UGC-NET, is gearing up to conduct on Sunday a retest for the medical entrance exam for 1,563 candidates who were earlier awarded grace marks to make up for the loss of time at six centres.

While medical NEET is under the scanner over several irregularities, including alleged leaks, the UGC-NET was cancelled a day after it was conducted as the ministry received inputs that the integrity of the exam had been compromised. (PTI)