Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 7:
The policy planning board of the Odisha government’s Technical Education department will be meeting here today to take a final call on which route students aspiring to get admissions to engineering courses will take- all-India examination (JEE Mains) or Odisha JEE.
Based on the suggestions of the policy planning board, the state government will take a final decision on whether the all-India examination (JEE Mains) or Odisha JEE will be better suited for Odisha students seeking admission to engineering courses in the state.
The policy planning board, which is headed by former Odisha High Court judge Justice A K Parischa, has 12 members including the secretary Technical Education and Training, secretary Higher Education, secretary Health, BPUT officials and representatives of the private engineering colleges’ body of the state.
The policy planning body is also likely to discuss the notification issued by CBSE, which is conducting the JEE (Mains) for 2015, as the notification mentions Odisha as a participating state in the JEE (Mains).
The state government is under pressure from private engineering colleges to withdraw from the all-India examination (JEE Mains) for admission to premier technical colleges and instead, revive the Odisha JEE.
Binod Dash, secretary of the Odisha Private Engineering Colleges Association said private colleges stated that admission through the JEE Mains had led to the poor admission figures this year — “the worst in seven years”. The state had joined the all-India examination in 2013 for the 2014 academic session.
The number of students taking the JEE Mains test has dropped considerably. In 2012, 63,635 students had taken the test and the number came down to 62,157 in 2013. The fall between 2013 and 2014 is significant with only 48,221 students taking the test. “Students of the state were not aware of this exam. Later, when we pressed the state government for a second JEE, more than 10,000 students had appeared,” said Dash.
Promoters of private colleges stated that it was foolish on the part of the government to hurriedly join the all-India examination when several states such as Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra were conducting their own entrance tests. “It was done on an experimental basis, and the experiment has failed,” said Dash.
Despite a special state-level JEE examination conducted at the behest of Orissa High Court, nearly 37,000 seats have remained vacant in the state’s 101 private and 10 government colleges. Only 11,000 students are pursuing technical courses in the state. It is in this context that the private colleges want the government to revert to the Odisha JEE.
Sources said the representatives of private colleges had had at least two rounds of meetings with senior state government officials, including technical education minister Sanjay Das Burma and chief secretary G.B. Pati, in this regard.
The move to revert to the old system is bound to invite criticism from various quarters. There has been criticism over deterioration of the education standard in Odia-medium schools. The performance of students in the JEE Mains last year drew criticism over the quality of students. Only 3,202 students had qualified for the JEE Advanced. Ultimately, only 59 students from the state could make it to various IITs.
“Any move to switch back to OJEE will be an embarrassing one for the state, and it should not be done at any cost. At least, such an entrance has showed us our problems, and we should try to improve on those areas rather than try to cover up things. The state must continue with the central JEE,” said an eminent educationist.
“Going for slashing of standards to fill seats in private engineering colleges will mar the standard of students going for engineering courses in the state. This will only benefit the private engineering college promoters at the cost of damaging the standard of education and will be detrimental in the long run for the state”, said another educationist.