SC directs NIOS to set exam centers within 10km of accredited institutions
The Supreme Court ordered the National Institute of Open Learning (NIOS) to set exam centers at a distance of 10 kilometers from accredited institutions to allow students to take the exam with certainty and ease. .
A vacation bench of Justices SA Nazeer and PS Narasimha said a significant number of students using open education invariably come from rural areas. ”Most of these students come from poor sections of society, depend on unreliable public transport and, in all likelihood, are employed for subsistence. It is not difficult to imagine the consequences of the inaccessibility of examination centers for these students. There is yet another factor. Primary, secondary or upper secondary examinations invariably involve answering several papers spread over a period of time. ”The impossibility of traveling long distances for each exam will only result in dropping out of school, which is the biggest challenge facing the country today. Interestingly, the New Education Policy, 2020, in Chapter 6 records the beneficial effect of reducing the burden of distance to prevent school dropout through group walks, provision of cycles, etc. . for socially and educationally disadvantaged groups,” the bench said.
The higher court was hearing a plea filed by a NIOS-accredited institution seeking an instruction from NIOS to set up testing centers for open education students a reasonable distance from their study centers, called accredited institutions. The prayer in the petition was for a direction at NIOS to develop a policy of distancing criteria while setting examination centers for examinations conducted by NIOS.
The Supreme Court said it was the responsibility of NIOS to fix the exam centers in such a way as to allow students to take the exam with certainty and ease. The bench said it was up to NIOS to go the extra mile rather than expecting students to travel long distances from villages and towns to take the exam.
”We are aware that fixing exam centers is a sensitive task involving security and continuous monitoring. We are also aware that integrity in the conduct of examinations is as important as education itself. All measures must be taken to prevent cheating and copying, which are the antithesis of education. ”NIOS must have the freedom to identify, accept or reject an application offering to be a test centre. While exercising this right, NIOS will also keep in mind its duty to provide accessibility to educational certification by allowing students access to testing centers,” the bench said.
The high court said that when arranging test centers, NIOS will be free to consider the credibility of the institution proposing to be a test center and any other factors necessary to ensure the review integrity, including law and order.
“NIOS should develop and implement criteria regarding the setting of examination centers that would be accessible from accredited institutions with which candidates are connected.
“NIOS will endeavor to locate examination centers within 10 kilometers of the accredited institutions with which they are connected,” the bench said.
“We have no doubt that the evaluation committee as well as the competent authority of NIOS will give their full attention to the problems that we have highlighted,” he said.
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