With Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeting, “It’s deeply unfair that students of India are asked to sit national exams during the Covid-19 pandemic and while millions have also been impacted by the extreme floods. I stand with their call to #PostponeJEE_NEETinCOVID,” the contestation over the upcoming exams has acquired international shades as well.

But with both the National Testing Agency (NTA) and the Centre holding firm that there will be no postponement, the real focus should now be on making sure that these medical and engineering entrance exams are held with maximum possible safeguards against the spread of Covid.

Several countries have shown that rising to this challenge is indeed possible. For example Germany also saw calls for postponement of the Abitur exams that are required in order to be accepted for university on grounds of health concerns, revision difficulties and undue psychological pressure but decided to nonetheless move forward, with focus on well-aired facilities and physical distancing. In India as in Germany there is a large student constituency that desires holding of exams, as affirmation that their life plans haven’t been completely derailed in 2020.

Read also: Greta Thunberg voices support to calls for postponement of NEET, JEE exams

The important thing now is for NTA to smoothly deliver everything as promised, from increased testing centres to staggered entry, thermal scanning and universal masking. Some factors are beyond its control. For instance the continuing scarcity of public transport facilities could prove difficult for some students to overcome. It’s a reminder that normalization efforts are still taking place in silos and that’s costing citizens young or old.

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