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NTA mulls closing its exam centre in Kashmir

NTA mulls closing its exam centre in Kashmir

Stakeholders express concern

Syed Rizwan Geelani

Srinagar, Sep 26: In a surprise development, the National Testing Agency (NTA), the authorised examination conducting body for various competitive exams across India, is considering shutting down its examination center in the Hayatpora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district.

This decision comes mere months after the NTA established the centre, equipped with approximately 600 computers, to accommodate a large number of students appearing in various national-level examinations simultaneously.

An official said that the revelation came to the fore after the centre head at Budgam conveyed to the employees stationed at the Budgam center that NTA headquarters was mulling closing down the centre here.

The move has left the employees in a state of uncertainty, unsure about their next course of action.

"The top official overseeing the Budgam center conveyed to the employees here that the NTA has ordered the closure of the center. Now we are in a fix, not knowing what to do next," said an official, wishing not to be named.

The Budgam examination center was established amid public outcry over the allocation of examination centers for students from Kashmir outside J&K.

Recently, a hue and cry was made over the allocation of examination centers for the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) for Kashmiri students outside J&K.

Due to vehement protests from students and parents, the examination centres were eventually relocated to Kashmir.

The official overseeing the NTA centre in Budgam, while elaborating on the centre's role during the CUET exam said that after relocating the examination center for students to Kashmir, around 13,000 students from different parts of Kashmir appeared in the CUET exam.

“Additionally, we successfully conducted the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) exam, catering to approximately 1200 aspirants from Kashmir. Aspirants from Poonch, Shopian, Banihal, and other areas appeared in their exams at this centre,” he said.

The official said that they were gearing up to host the prestigious national-level competitive exams like the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) in 2024, offering a valuable opportunity for local students.

“However, following an internal communication from the NTA headquarters just a few days ago, the future of the centre hangs in the balance,” the official said.

He said that they were in the process of winding up the facility, with plans to relocate the installed computers to an as-yet-undisclosed location.

“The center was fully operational here since May, operating out of a privately rented building. Rent had been fixed, and preparations were underway for the upcoming exams. But the sudden communication from the NTA headquarters has left everyone confused and disheartened,” the official said.

Amid the NTA plans to close the Budgam centre, the potential consequences for students, especially those preparing for upcoming national-level competitive exams, remain a cause of concern.

Meanwhile, stakeholders have expressed concern over the NTA’s decision to close down the centre noting that the move would create a crisis during the 2024 exams.

Private School Association Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) President, Ghulam Nabi Var told Greater Kashmir that it was a worrisome development for the prospects of Kashmiri students.

"Everybody is of the view that the government has learned its lesson and now permanent centres will be established in Kashmir. On the contrary, even temporary centres are being taken away, creating uneasiness among the students and their parents,” Var said.

The association urged Lieutenant Governor (LG) Manoj Sinha to take cognisance of the situation and prevent the relocation of NTA centers from Kashmir.

“We urge the LG to issue directives for the establishment of permanent examination centers in Kashmir to spare students from further distress,” Var said. (Greater Kashmir)

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