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Every year, some 3 lakh students passing Class 12 in Tamil Nadu are denied the opportunity of studying UG or integrated five-year courses in many central government educational institutions. These are Tamil medium students and they are unable to take the entrance exams for these courses which are conducted only in English and sometimes only in English and Hindi.
In 2019-20, the number of students studying Class 12 in government schools in Tamil Nadu was 3.7 lakh, some 80% of whom are in Tamil medium.
Even for NEET, the question papers were initially only in English and Hindi. After stiff opposition to NEET from Tamil Nadu, the exams are being conducted in 10 languages including Tamil.
In 2018, because of language errors, the High Court had ordered 196 grace marks to be given to those who took the test in Tamil. But the Supreme Court overturned the verdict.
Just having the test in Tamil doesn’t really help since most students in Tamil medium come from poor, underprivileged backgrounds and cannot afford the coaching necessary to pass the exam.
The 7.5% reservation for government students as well as the state government’s decision to take it upon itself all the expenses for these students in medical education has helped them.
For admission to IITs, NITs and other Union govt institutions, JEE Main is conducted. The tests are conducted in 13 languages including English, Tamil and Hindi. The National Testing Agency conducts this test. Only those who pass this test can appear in JEE Advanced for IIT admission. JEE Advanced exams are conducted only in English and Hindi. If a Tamil medium student passes JEE Mains, he or she still cannot take JEE Advanced. The doors of IITs are closed on the student.
The Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition functions under the Union ministry of tourism. The institute has 21 campuses including in Taramani, Chennai. The course that Class 12 passed students can study here is BSc in Hotel Administration. The question papers for the entrance exams of these institutions are also given only in English and Hindi.
The experience of Tamil medium students in engineering and medical colleges in the state shows that while they struggle initially in the courses, the students are able to quickly adjust and do well in the courses.
The National Defence Academy and Naval Academy entrance exams are also conducted only in English and Hindi. Similarly, for All-India quota in agricultural courses, too, the entrance exam is conducted only in English and Hindi.
There is central university in Tiruvarur in Tamil Nadu. There are many integrated five-year courses here. The CUCET is the entrance exam for 12 central universities including the one at Tiruvarur. CUCET is conducted only in English.
There is National Law School in Tiruchy. To study UG here, one has to give CLAT which is conducted only in English. Half the seats in this institution are reserved for students from Tamil Nadu. But Tamil medium students are denied the opportunity of studying here.
Similar is the case with five-year courses at Indian Institutes of Education and Resarch, National Institute of Technology under the department of atomic energy, five-year integrated courses in Center for Excellence in in Basic Medicines, as well as Development Studies and English Studies courses at IIT Madras. The exams are conducted only in English.
The list doesn’t end with these. There are many such courses in central institutes that are closed to Tamil medium students. The central government provides generous support to students getting admissions here. But the opportunities are denied to Tamil medium students.
The experience of Tamil medium students in engineering and medical colleges in the state shows that while they struggle initially in the courses, the students are able to quickly adjust and do well in the courses. In due course, when they appear in PG entrance, they are able to do so without any problem. inmathi.com has documented several such cases.
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