Union Cabinet approved the setting up of National Testing Agency (NTA). The agency would be responsible for conducting entrance examinations in the country thus relieving educational bodies like CBSE, AICTE etc. of their exam conducting duties. The agency would begin its operation with taking over examinations which are currently being conducted by CBSE and eventually cover other entrance examinations. The setting up of NTA would allow students to have access to one standardized test and will also curb allegation of uneven difficulty level in various sittings in an exam.
An official in the human resources development ministry said, “The body is being set up with an aim to relieve examination-conducting agencies of the responsibilities which are not their primary mandate and create a specialised body to carry out admission tests into institutes of higher and technical education.
“When NTA comes into existence the CBSE will be able to focus its resources on its original responsibilities,” the official added.
Under the NTA, the entrance examinations will be conducted online at least twice a year, to give adequate opportunity to the candidates to bring out their best, the statement further said.
“The entrance examinations will be conducted in online mode at least twice a year, thereby giving adequate opportunity to candidates to bring out their best,” stated the government’s press statement released on Friday. This body will be subjected to a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit. Initially, the government will provide a one-time grant of Rs 25 crore for NTA to start operation. It will have a board of governors and a director general, who will be an eminent educationist.
Apart from Class 10 and Class 12 board exams, CBSE conducts five other tests — Joint Engineering Entrance (JEE), National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET, for medical courses), University Grants Commission’s National Eligibility Test (for lectureship, held twice a year), Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET, held twice a year) and the test for Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (schools for gifted students).
Here are 10 things to know about National Testing Agency.
1. The Finance Minister in the budget speech of 2017-18 had announced that a national body will be set up which will be responsible for conducting entrance examinations for higher education.
2. Government has allocated a fund of Rs. 25 crore for NTA to begin operation in the first year. From its second year, the agency will become self-sustainable.
3. Some of the exams which would be conducted by NTA will be JEE Main, NEET UG, UGC NET, CTET, etc.
4. The exams will be conducted online and will likely be conducted twice a year. So far entrance exams like JEE Main or NEET UG are conducted only once a year. UGC NET used to be conducted twice a year but from this year, CBSE announced that NET will also be conducted once a year. The prospect of the entrance exams twice a year will bring relief to students who often have to face undue pressure specially for exams like JEE and NEET which are conducted immediately after the board exams are over.
5. The agency would function as an autonomous body and will be chaired by an educationist who will be appointed by the MHRD.
6. The agency will have a board of governors who will represent the member institutions.
7. NTA will be created as a society registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860.
8. The agency would cater to about 40 lakh students who appear in various entrance exams. 1186454 students had registered for JEE Main exam this year. 11,38,890 had appeared for the NEET UG exam this year. Approximately 9.30 lakh candidates had registered for UGC NET which was concluded recently.
9. NTA will ensure that exams have a standardized difficulty level.
10. It is also expected that setting up NTA will help avoid conflicts about varying levels of difficulty in different sets of question paper.
Establishment of NTA will benefit about 4 million students appearing in various entrance examinations. It will, over time, relieve the CBSE, AICTE, IITs, IIMs and other agencies from the responsibility of conducting these entrance tests, thus enabling them to focus more on their core mandate.
The agency will also bring in high reliability, standardised difficulty level to assess the aptitude, intelligence and problem-solving abilities of the students.
According to the decision taken on Friday, NTA will be chaired by an eminent educationist appointed by the HRD ministry with a director general or CEO, and there will also be a Board of Governors. Some academicians and experts are also likely to be members of the agency.
Terming the approval a historic decision and a much-needed educational reform, HRD minister Prakash Javadekar said, “Creation of National Testing Agency , a single agency to conduct all entrance exams, with experts on board, will bring in high reliability, standardized assessing aptitude & conduct of tamper-proof exams.”
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