New Delhi: The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has finally established the National Testing Agency which will now have the of conducting national examination for Higher Education Institutions, which were until now conducted by other agencies like CBSE, AICTE and others.
Government of India, in pursuance of the budget announcement of 2017-18 and subsequent approval of the Union Cabinet, has registered the National Testing Agency (NTA) as a Society under the Societies (Registration) Act of 1960, which will be functioning as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organisation.
According to the order signed by Prashant Agrawal, Director (IITs) from the Ministry said that the NTA will conduct those examinations which are currently being conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education CBSE) as well as the CMAT and GPAT as entrusted earlier by the All Indian Council for Technical Education (AICTE) so that these agencies are relived of the responsibility of conducting these examinations and can focus on their core activities.
The NTA is now all set to hold the maiden examination of UGC-NET. The order of the ministry said, “The NTA will start with UGC-NET in December 2018 whereas other examinations will be taken up from 2019 onward. It will conduct the examinations in Computer Based Testing mode atleast twice a year, thereby giving adequate opportunity to candidates to bring out their best.”
The Ministry said that to serve the requirements of rural students, it will locate examination centres at sub-district/district level and will provide hands-on training to the students. However the Ministry said that the NEET (UG) examination which is conducted for MBBS entrance would be conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
To assess competence of candidates for admissions and recruitment has always been a challenge in terms of matching with research based international standards, efficiency, transparency and error free delivery. The National Testing Agency is entrusted to address all such issues using best in every field, from test preparation, to test delivery andto test marking.
The objectives of the NTA, inter-alia, are conducting efficient, transparent tests designed in a scientific manner for assessing competence of students. It will train subject matter experts and prepare test items in collaboration with psychometricians to ensure that the tests are well balanced. NTA will adopt technology and the best global practices to bring in high reliability, transparency, and standardized difficulty levels for assessing the aptitude, intelligence and problem-solving abilities of the students.
According to the ministry, the NTA will analyse data of previous tests and deliberate with subject matter experts for designing better question papers. NTA will be a self-sustained organization. However, in order to set up and start its operations, a provision of Rs 25 crore as one-time grant has been made.
As per rules and regulations of the NTA, the administrative structure of NTA includes its General Body which decides policy matters, will be chaired by an eminent educationist appointed by the Government of India and will comprise nominees from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs),
Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs), Central Universities (CUs) and experts from the field of testing as its Members.
It is really a good initiative and breakthrough step. However, the problems with our exam systems are plenty, firstly leakage of question papers, until recently CBSE papers were leaked affecting the entire country, them the issue of transparency and accountability.
Most importantly, I feel that the examination pattern in the country requires a shift from present model to a scientific assessment. Many a times, in the present model, the aptitude and ability of a student gets lost and the number scored only becomes relevant, which has given boost to a parallel system of education in name of coaching. I hope NTA will be addressed these issues effectively.