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First cycle of JEE-Main likely by end Feb

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NEW DELHI: The first cycle of Joint Entrance Examination (JEE-main) 2021 will be conducted in the last week of February instead of January. The application process however will commence from December 2020. Many other competitive and Class XII Board exams are also likely to be deferred by more than a month. Given the pandemic and forthcoming elections in Assam and West Bengal, Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) officials too felt that it may not be possible to conduct the Board exams on time in 2021.

JEE (Main), which is the national level competitive test for admission to various undergraduate engineering and architecture courses, including the eligibility test for the JEE (Advanced) for admission to the IITs is conducted twice a year – January and April. However, due to the COVID-19 situation the April 2020 exams had to be conducted in September and admissions for the 2020-21 academic session is still underway in many institutions.

According to a senior government official, “With the engineering admission still underway the ministry of education is of the view that the first JEE (main) of 2021 has to be pushed to February end. This will allow candidates who were not satisfied with the choice of branch.”

Another factor taken into account by the ministry of education is the increasing cases of Coronavirus infection. The National Testing Agency earlier had to postpone the exam twice this year due to the pandemic.

“Also the burgeoning Corona cases is another reason as NTA would need around two months to prepare the centres with COVID-19 protocols so that the exams could be safely delivered,” said the official.

The government in October also decided to widen the reach of the JEE (main) by offering it in more regional languages. Currently it is offered in English, Hindi and Gujarati. “JEE (main) will be offered in 11 languages and that would also need some time for preparation. Therefore, the exams will have to be conducted in the last week of February,” said the official.

As reported first by TOI, according to a senior official at the MoE, the CBSE exams too would be pushed beyond February so that the candidates get additional time for preparation and also so that Class XII students get a revision window post the JEE (main). The CBSE Board exams generally commence from mid-February. Though a final decision on the dates are yet to be taken, according to CBSE sources, the exam dates are likely to be announced later this week.

According to Gerry Arathoon, chief executive and secretary, Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE), “Personally I don’t think Board exams will happen before May or June. It will be difficult to conduct the exams even in April due to the rising COVID-19 cases as parents would be unwilling to take the risk. The election dates too have to be taken into consideration.”

With the JEE (main) and Board exams pushed back by a month, according to MoE sources, this is also likely to affect the scheduling of other competitive exams and state Board exams.



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Education

20% of informal workers remain unemployed post-lockdown: Survey

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(This story originally appeared in on Jan 27, 2021)

NEW DELHI: A new study tracking around 2,800 informal workers during the pandemic found more than two thirds of those employed in February 2020 had lost work during the lockdown and six months later nearly 20% remained unemployed – indicating that while jobs were regained, employment is below pre-Covid levels.

The 20% workers had not found even one day of work in the month preceding the survey.

The findings are based on a second round of survey as part of a study titled “How robust is the recovery? Tracking informal workers through the pandemic” carried out by Azim Premji University in collaboration with six civil society organisations. The first round was carried out in April-May.

The findings of the second round between October to December across 12 states show that in terms of relief measures while the food grains under the Public Distribution System reached a significantly high 9 of 10 households holding a ration card, half of the households that received grains have not yet attained pre-lockdown food consumption levels. Also three-fourths of the BPL households received less grains than their entitled quantity.

During the first round of survey in April-May, 9 in 10 households reported cutting back on food consumption during the lockdown. Six months later while things have changed, only one-third reported that consumption was back at pre-lockdown levels. “Urban households are worse off with 28% reporting that food consumption was still at lockdown levels as against 15% of rural households,” said the survey.

The findings suggest that a continued expanded allocation for MGNREGA, as well as the introduction of an urban employment scheme in the upcoming budget are crucial for addressing this livelihood crisis. They also highlight the urgent need to expand the scope of the current PDS provisioning alongside an adequate security net for those who have suffered the most during this crisis.

The first round of survey had covered 4942 workers, two-third of whom had lost work during lockdown. Earnings of self-employed persons dropped by 86% and urban casual labour by 53%. Eight in 10 people were eating less food than before.

In the second round, they re-interviewed 2778 persons mostly working in the unorganised sector who were part of the first round in April – May to make the comparison and analyse recovery trends. The survey was carried out in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra (Pune), Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Pune in Maharashtra.

The survey covered self – employed women, farmers, NREGA workers, migrants, street vendors and casual wage as well as regular wage workers who were predominantly engaged as domestic help, security guards or working in the services sector.



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jee main 2021 news: JEE Main 2021: Approach February’s JEE as ‘practice’ test, coaching institutes tell students

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Nagpur: Many coaching institutes are advising students to not worry about the upcoming Joint Entrance Examination (JEE-Main) in February, considering physical classes at institutes started barely two weeks ago. They feel that students can make up for any setback when the exam is held again in March, April and May.

While National Testing Agency (NTA) had conducted JEE-Main twice in 2020, this time the attempts allowed have been increased to four. Every candidate has the option to appear for one or all the versions of this online test. The best performance, if attempting two or more tests, will be considered as the final result.

While the official line for all coaching classes is that students will be ready, quite a few academics told TOI that their students are nervous.

“There are phases in preparation for the exam and had it been a normal year, then by this time students would have appeared for multiple test series,” said a coaching class owner. “Test series in a physical classroom setting, something which mimics the actual environment, makes a big difference. Because of coaching classes being closed, students had been cocooned in their homes and solving test papers.”

Another coaching class owner said students are now looking forward to ‘doubt clarification’. “See syllabus part has been completed long back. Right now it’s only about getting doubts cleared and practising for the exam. But doubt clarification happens best in a physical and one-to-one atmosphere. Students are present at the institute and they all discuss among themselves and share what the teacher has told them. This collective discussion builds up their knowledge bank,” said the institute owner.

Conducting JEE-Mains is relatively easier because it’s an online test. For traditional pen-paper medical entrance exam NEET, it’s a massive logistical challenge. The proposal to conduct NEET twice a year is being considered but so far nothing concrete has been decided.



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UBSE Board Exams 2021: Board shortlists exam centres for 10th, 12th exams

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Dehradun: The Uttarakhand Board of School Education (UBSE) has announced that 2,72,313 students of the 2020-21 batch will write their board exams in 1,347 board examination centres across the state.

Pauri will have the highest 166 UBSE examination centres and Champawat has the lowest 40 exam centres in the state. Out of the total 1,347 exam centres, 223 have been recognised as sensitive centres while 22 have been earmarked as very sensitive ones.

The decisions were taken on Wednesday in a meeting chaired by UBSE secretary Neeta Tiwari. According to TOI sources, the UBSE board exams are likely to be held in late April or in early May 2021. Last year, 2,71,415 students had written board exams in 1,324 examination centres. The exams were held in two phases due to Covid-19.

According to the exam forms filled, 1,48,828 students will appear for high school examination and 1,23, 485 students for intermediate examination. The maximum number of students — 44,143 — are from Haridwar. Champawat has the lowest of 8,255 UBSE board students.



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