Kashmiri Students Outraged As Exam Centers Allocated Outside Kashmir, Ignoring Preferences

   

by Maleeha Sofi

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SRINAGAR: Hundreds of Kashmiri students preparing for the Common University Entrance Test (CUET-UG) are up in arms over the allocation of their examination centres outside Kashmir, disregarding their preferred choices for the test venue.

Students arrive at a college after a gap of nearly one year, following Covid19 safety guidelines issued by the government, in Srinagar, Monday, February 15, 2021. All the educational institutes including schools, colleges and universities in Jammu and Kashmir, which were closed in March last year in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

The National Testing Agency (NTA), responsible for conducting the exams, released a notification on May 14, intimating the city of examination for CUET-UG scheduled between May 21-24, and on May 17 for exams up to May 28, 2023.

However, instead of easing students’ concerns, the allocation of examination centres has only added to their exam-related stress. Upon downloading their intimation slips, many students discovered that the centres allotted to them were not among the choices they had selected during the form-filling process. To their dismay, the allotted centres were located outside Jammu and Kashmir.

Muskan, a resident of Sopore who had filled out the CUET-UG form, had chosen Baramulla and Srinagar as her first and second preferences for the examination centre, respectively. However, she was assigned Jalandhar, Punjab, as the city of examination for the Physics paper. Expressing her difficulties, she said, “It is very difficult for me to travel so far due to my health issues.”

The CUET-UG exam is anticipated to witness approximately 16.85 lakh students across the country participating over a ten-day period, with exams held in 388 cities nationwide and 24 cities outside India. The exam is a prerequisite for admission to bachelor’s degree programs across all universities and colleges.

Tawheeda Fayaz, a student from Srinagar, is set to appear for the Kashmiri and General Test. She had selected Srinagar and Baramulla as her preferred exam centres. However, she was assigned Phagwara, Punjab, as her examination city, raising concerns about her mother’s illness. She voiced her worry, saying, “If my father accompanies me for the exam, who will look after my mother? Every student cannot afford to go out of the state for the exam.” Surprisingly, many of her friends have been assigned exams on separate days in various cities like Jalandhar, Bathindi, Ropra, Chandigarh, Jammu, and Mohali, even without selecting those locations as preferences.

The issue extends beyond Kashmiri students, as candidates from other regions have also encountered similar problems. Outrage has erupted on social media platforms, with many expressing their dissatisfaction with the allocation of exam centres.

Tawheeda Farooq, a student residing in Hajin, expressed concerns about the inconvenience caused by the complex entrance exam arrangements. She highlighted the challenges of navigating an unfamiliar city away from home and finding suitable accommodation. Tawheeda, who is scheduled to take the Economics, Political Science, and General Test, discovered that all three exams are designated for Chandigarh. Fortunately, she has coordinated her travel plans with friends who also have assigned centres in the same city.

Parents of the affected students have been left uncertain and anxious. Many students have yet to leave Kashmir and are now scrambling to find a way to appear for the exams. Qualifying for the CUET-UG is mandatory for securing admission to bachelor’s degree programmes. Students are hopeful that a resolution will be reached when the admit cards are released, alleviating their concerns and ensuring a smoother examination process.

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