Coaching for MBBS aspirants
IFP Editorial: State sponsored coaching program could be replicated in the case MBBS/BDS aspirants for the sake of the deserving students from poor families and economically weaker sections.
What have we learned from the pandemic which caught the world and the country, including the state, unaware? Looking back at the various struggles Manipur had to encounter in combatting or keeping up with the pandemic, we need to identify the areas where we went wrong and what needs to be done about it. The first thing which comes to mind is the lack of adequate health infrastructure and health professionals particularly doctors and nurses. With regard to health infrastructure, premier hospitals and public health centres or health and wellness centres have been upgraded to some extent to handle a third wave of the pandemic, besides opening of medical oxygen facilities in most of the hospitals and districts. What is now lacking is adequate health professionals to man these hospitals and health centres. The state has two medical institutes of which RIMS is one of the top medical institutions in the entire Northeast. RIMS was ranked 38th in National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) of the Ministry of Human Resource Development in the year 2020 and awarded the Certificate of Appreciation in January this year by the state for exemplary performance under AB-PMJAY. So far, it had produced a cumulative total of 3,560 doctors while there are currently 547 undergraduate students at RIMS. A total of 1,968 specialist doctors have also been produced from the said institution besides having 402 postgraduate students currently. The other institute is JNIMS, established during the previous Congress regime. But JNIMS is still struggling in terms of adequate number of teachers at the higher level and it is hiring retired professors from RIMS and other medical institutes in an effort to fulfil the criteria set by MCI. Another medical college is coming up in Churachandpur district and the state is going all out to start classes from a temporary campus.
Every year, thousands of Science undergraduates from the state compete in the medical entrance examinations and hundreds join the medical graduate courses. As a result, we get hundreds of medical graduates every year. For those who did not make the grade for selection in the medical colleges of the country, they either seek admission in various private institutions by paying huge amount of capitation fees or go outside the country to study medicine who has to appear in the initiation examinations conducted in the country before beginning practice. Now, NEET examination has changed all that. National Eligibility cum Entrance Test NEET is conducted by National Testing Agency (NTA) in 13 languages, as a uniform entrance examination for admission to MBBS/BDS and other undergraduate medical courses. It has fairly succeeded in bringing about transparency and meritocracy in the admission process to medical colleges. Yet, a question remains as to whether it has really succeeded in selecting the brightest or deserving students from among the crowd. A Tamil Nadu panel recently found that the introduction of the entrance test in 2017-18 negatively affected students from economically weaker sections with the results favouring the English medium-educated and students from well-to-do families.
Perhaps, it is the outcome of a system where aspiring students had to heavily depend on specialised coaching to make the grade. Before and after NEET, the private coaching centres continue to rule the roost. As the coaching fees are very high, students coming from poor families cannot afford these private coaching centres. We would like to make a suggestion. The state government recently started a coaching programme for civil service aspirants in collaboration with a private organisation and it has begun to pay dividends. Six candidates from the state, including a few who had joined the state sponsored coaching programme passed the UPSC examination. The same state sponsored coaching program could be replicated in the case MBBS/BDS aspirants for the sake of the deserving students from poor families and economically weaker sections.