The Tamil Nadu government is likely to pass an ordinance on Monday providing a 10 per cent ‘horizontal quota’ for students of state government schools in admission to medical courses via National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), sources said.
The ordinance is meant to be a leveller for government school students to provide them equal access to admissions in medical colleges after their numbers dipped with the introduction of NEET.
In March, the Edappadi K Palaniswami government had constituted a commission led by Justice P Kalaiyarasan to find out why students from government schools were not able to get admission into medical colleges through NEET. The recommendations were submitted to the CM last week.
The CM has said that the reservation scheme would be for students who studied from class 1 to 12 in government schools, corporation schools, municipal schools, Kallar reclamation schools and schools run by the Forest Department.
Tamil Nadu, which had 3,350 MBBS seats till last year, was the only state to oppose NEET and the state government faced flak when the exam was implemented in the state in 2017. Since then, only 14 students from government schools managed to get admissions in medical courses.
What is Horizontal Quota?
The reservation in favour of ex-servicemen, person with disability, sportsmen, minorities etc may be called horizontal reservation. It cuts across the vertical reservation. The percentage of reservation allotted to horizontal reservation categories should be adjusted against the percentage of SC/ST/ OBC and General categories in the vertical reservation.
Earlier, CM Palaniswami had acknowledged that the entry of government school students into medical colleges went down drastically after the introduction of the NEET.
Anitha, a 17-year-old girl from one of the historically oppressed communities in Tamil Nadu, became a symbol of the struggle against medical exams like NEET. Also a litigant at the Supreme Court over the issue, she took her own life in 2017 just over a week after the Court ruled that medical college admissions in Tamil Nadu will be based on the the national admission test.
The daughter of a daily wage labourer, she had failed to secure a seat in the course, leaving her devastated. She had secured 1176 out of 1200 in her board examination, but got just 86 out of 700 in NEET and thus could not gain admission in a medical college.
Should the ordinance be passed at the state cabinet today, Palaniswami would have addressed a portion of the grievances stemming from the medical entrance test.
Still, issues such as unfair advantage for the urban elite in access to quality coaching classes - an aspect that holds good for other entrance tests as well - have not been addressed.