Designing CUET with caution and empathy - Hindustan Times
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Designing CUET with caution and empathy

ByHT Editorial
Jun 23, 2022 09:41 PM IST

CUET is aimed at ending a system where students have to write multiple tests. For this landmark reform, cautious and vigilant implementation for millions of students will be key.

Between July 15 and August 10, the National Testing Agency (NTA) will conduct the first common university entrance test (CUET) for admission in central universities at the under-graduate level, marking the beginning of an annual exercise with a scale, diversity and difficulty that is unprecedented for standardised testing in India.

A single entrance exam can become an unreasonable assessment of a person’s merit, if not designed with empathy and awareness of ground realities. (HT Photo) PREMIUM
A single entrance exam can become an unreasonable assessment of a person’s merit, if not designed with empathy and awareness of ground realities. (HT Photo)

CUET was envisioned to solve the problem of sky-high cut-offs clogging university admissions – an alternative for the more politically difficult process of standardising various boards of education. But as this newspaper has noted, establishing a common examination system will involve paper setters having to create a level-playing field for millions of students across region, class, caste, ethnicity and faith – coming from rural, urban and peri-urban areas with unequal and uneven access to schooling and coaching services. The government has taken the first step by announcing that the test will be conducted in 13 languages, but it will have to be alert that the new system doesn’t create new hierarchies of merit, or lock in new forms of inequalities. Moreover, people creating the question papers will have to set nearly 330 sets for the almost one million aspirants. With 86 universities and around 50,000 unique combination of subjects, only careful planning and monitoring will smoothen the process.

CUET is aimed at ending a system where students have to write multiple tests, and where despite securing upwards of 90% marks, struggle to enter reputed universities. But a single entrance exam can become an unreasonable assessment of a person’s merit, if not designed with empathy and awareness of ground realities. For this landmark reform, cautious and vigilant implementation will be key.

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