Poor performance by Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students in the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences here, both at the entry and exit levels, needs probing, particularly in the context of these categories and the Other Backward Classes showing improved performance in professional education in States, says a report.

An analysis of the OBC reservation policy for higher education carried out by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) – a deemed university – for the National Academy of Sciences shows that over years there has been a significant difference in the performance of the general and reserved categories at the entry level in the AIIMS.

The failure rate of the general category varied from two to seven per cent across different years, while it was between 16 and 50 per cent for the reserved category. “There may be various reasons attributed to this high failure rate of the reserved category students which needs further probing through qualitative tools”. One possible reason is that SC/ST students have not been on a par with the general category at the entry level and in the absence of remedial coaching, special assistance and other support the same is reflected at the exit level in a high failure rate, says the report.

In 2001, the highest mark scored by general category students was 71 per cent while it was 54 per cent among the reserved category. The percentage went up to 76 and 66 in 2002 and to 81 and 58 in 2005. Although the highest and lowest marks obtained by the reserved category did show an improvement over the years, the difference in the highest and lowest marks between the general and reserved categories further accentuated in 2005. It means the general category has over the years improved on its highest and lowest scores, more than the reserved category.

Explaining the phenomenon, the report says the figures imply that SC/ST students, securing admission to the AIIMS through reservation, start the course on a weak footing as seen in their entry scores. It also reflects on the kind of opportunities like coaching, quality school education and other socio-economic factors in which SC/ST students may be at a disadvantage. The reserved category students need to be supported during the initial years with remedial coaching to help them cope with the course and also perform well at the exit level.

Keywords: reservationSCSTAIIMS