November 24, 2020.
TED NewsDesk, Tamil Nadu: Mr RB Udhayakumar, Revenue Minister, honoured the qualifiers of NEET 2020 at the Madurai Collectorate. A group of 14 students from across various government schools gathered as the felicitation ceremony took place on Sunday. A student named S Thanga Pechi was the only one who stood there with her name on the standby.
Even after her presence at the medical counselling held on November 19, her name appeared in the waiting list. Coming from the Most Backward Class (MBC), she had to give up her seat in a private medical college due to financial issues. However, two days later, the government declared its plan to provide financial assistance to government school candidates enrolled in private medical institutions.
Thanga Petchi, who is 17 now, studied in Government Kallar Higher Secondary School got 155 in her first attempt thus, scoring 438th rank under the 7.5% horizontal quota. Despite her remarkable performance, the only thing that she has is an uncertain future.
“Looking at my NEET score when the results came, I was convinced that I would not be able to secure a medical seat this year. It was then that the 7.5 per cent reservation came as a blessing. Full of optimism, we set out to Chennai to attend the medical counselling,” she said with tears in her eyes.
Her maternal uncle V Alagarsamy was also present at the counselling. He informed that only ten private colleges were available when her turn arrived.
Elaborating upon her plight, he said,
“Requiring to pay Rs 25,000 as a deposit to block a seat, it was certain that the family could never afford the fees collected by private medical colleges for the 5.5-year-long course. We felt that instead of giving away Rs 25,000 for blocking the seat, it could be used to admit her in a private coaching centre for a second NEET attempt,” said Alagarsamy.
S Sivaramapandian, who is the Principal of Pechi’s school.
“Maybe I should have guided them to take the risk. When people were hesitant to sponsor the girl and banks seeking collateral to provide a loan, the family had no option but turned down the offer in a private medical college,” he added teary-eyed.
On November 21, the Chief Minister, Mr Edappadi K Palaniswami declared about his government’s decision to pay hostel and tuition fees of government school aspirants enrolled under horizontal reservation in private dental and medical institutions. The news was of no use to Thanga Pechi because of two-day delay, as per Alagarsamy.
Addressing the matter, the Principal Secretary to the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Dr J Radhakrishnan, informed that there are almost 10-15 aspirants with the same issue.
“Despite repeated reassurance of government scholarship during the first two days of counselling, these students held back thinking it to be a risk. They have been put on the waiting list and would be allotted seats during the second round, subject to availability,” the Principal added.
Pechi lives in the village of Paanaamoopanpatti in Usilampatti taluk. Being the eldest of the four siblings, she would have become the first person to graduate had she enrolled herself in the medical college. The monthly income of her family is hardly Rs. 9000- Rs 12000 as her parents are farmers. With a low economic background, the girls mainly depend on the government’s help for their education. Without the same, they might have to drop out and take up selling of jasmine flower to Nilakottai market, as their future.
” As the network connectivity in our village is poor, I could not attend the free online NEET coaching given by the government. Banking entirely on the high school syllabus, I prepared for the entrance exam all by myself, only studying textbooks of classes XI and XII,” she told TNIE.
She managed to study at night for 4-5 hours amid lockdown while performing several other tasks like maintaining the flower field, cooking for her sisters and looking after the household, while her parents were away at work during the daytime. Qualifying NEET was a tremendous achievement of Pechi.