Chennai: Son of a shepherd father and tailor mother, Jeevith Kumar has made his parents proud by clearing the medical entrance exam NEET 2020. Jeevith not only cleared the all-India medical entrance exam but also topped among candidates from the state’s government schools.
However, their happiness has become limited to what lies ahead. Jeevith has no means to pay for his college fee.
In an interview to NDTV, Jeevith who cleared NEET on his second attempt said, “My family can’t even afford the admission fee for a government medical college. I need help so I could pursue my further studies.”
Even though he secured 548 out of 600 in Class XII last year, Jeevith could only score 193 in the medical entrance exam without private tuition. Looking at the uncharted potential in the youth, R Sabarimala, a teacher-turned-activist, posted a video appealing for help on the social media for Jeevith.
However, this year, he has managed to score 664, much higher than his last effort. This got possible only after help arrived from a person in the US who paid Rs 75,000. He could then enrol himself in a private coaching centre for a year-long residential programme that cost Rs 1.15 lakh. His teacher helped him too.
“Right from his first day in school, I had always prayed to God to give him good teachers. They have made all this possible. He did not follow English coaching earlier but teachers motivated him just to study. I have another son and a daughter,” said Jeevith’s mother, who adds to the family’s income by doing tailoring under the 100-day work programme.
Seeing many aspirants die by suicide over the last few years for failing the test motivated Jeevith to take the challenge to become a doctor albeit he never intended to do so.
He said he couldn’t have done it without the private coaching. “It was the coaching that made it possible for me. I want to help many poor students like me to become doctors. After becoming a doctor I’ll reach out to poor patients,” NDTV quoted him saying.
As Jeevith seeks help to secure his future, a key bill that could help many students like him awaits clearance by the Governor.
In September, the Tamil Nadu assembly had passed a bill to reserve 7.5 per cent seats in medical colleges for government school students. However, BJP-appointed Governor Banwarilal Purohit is yet to sign or reject it. Any further delay in passing the bill could deny the opportunity for around 300 NEET-qualified students from government schools.
The Tamil Nadu assembly passed the bill after it failed to get an exemption for state students from appearing for the NEET. For nearly a decade, the state had abolished the medical entrance exam and made admissions on the basis of marks secured in class XII.
Successive state governments have argued that NEET favours the affluent, who can afford private coaching, and denies opportunity to the poor and those from rural backgrounds who score well in class XII but can’t afford private coaching.
So far, at least 13 Tamil Nadu students have died by suicide after failing to clear NEET or over the fear of failing in the exams.