National Recruitment Agency (NRA) & Common Eligibility Test (CET) – All you need to Know

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday (August 19th, 2020) approved the setting up of the ‘National Recruitment Agency’ to conduct the Common Eligibility Test, said Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar. This, he argued, will benefit the youths seeking jobs.

The National Recruitment Agency (NRA) was proposed by the Modi government in the Union Budget this year. The agency is slated to be an independent organisation which will conduct a Common Eligibility Test, for selection to government jobs or so said the proposal during the Budget.

The launch of a new test apparatus will require the applicant to appear for a single, online CET with the test scores remaining valid for three years.

According to the Union government, about 2.5 crore job aspirants at present take separate examinations conducted by different recruiting agencies for selection to around 1.25 lakh government jobs advertised each year.

The proposal to set up NRA for conducting CET was part of the announcements made by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Union budget speech earlier this year.

Here are the salient features of the NRA and CET:

  • NRA to conduct online CET twice in a year.
  • Registration of applicants, generation of roll number/admit cards, display of marks, merit list, etc, will be done online.
  • The CET would be available in a number of languages. This would greatly facilitate people from different parts of the country to take the exam and have an equal opportunity of being selected.
  • The CET will be based on multiple choice objective type question paper.
  • The CET score of a candidate will be valid for three years.
  • Every district of the country will have an examination centre, including the 117 aspirational districts. CET to be conducted at over 1,000 centres. Examination centres in every district of the country would greatly enhance access to the candidates located in far-flung areas.

Other Benefits of CET

  • No restriction on number of attempts by the candidate, subject to upper age limit prescribed.
  • Relaxation in upper age limit to be given to candidates of SC/ST/OBC/PwD, etc.
  • Candidates would have the facility of registering on a common portal and give a choice of centres. Based on availability, they would be allotted centres. The ultimate aim is to reach a stage wherein candidates can schedule their own tests at centres of their choice.
  • NRA to ensure better access to rural, underprivileged candidates and women.
  • NRA will facilitate employment generation.
  • CET scores can be shared with central government, state government, union territories, public sector undertakings and private sector.
  • NRA shall conduct a separate CET each for the three levels of graduate, higher secondary (12th pass) and the matriculate (10th pass) candidates for those non-technical posts to which recruitment is presently carried out by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), the Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) and by the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS).
  • Based on the screening done at the CET score level, final selection for recruitment shall be made through separate specialised Tiers (II, III, etc.,) of examination which shall be conducted by the respective recruitment agencies.
  • The curriculum for this test would be common as would be the standard. This would greatly ease the burden of candidates who are at present required to prepare for each of the examinations separately as per different curriculum.
  • The Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs 1,517.57 crore for the NRA. The expenditure will be undertaken over a period of three years. Apart from setting up the NRA, costs will be incurred for setting up examination infrastructure in the 117 aspirational districts.

Benefits to poor candidates

Presently, the candidates have to appear in multiple examinations conducted by multiple agencies. Apart from the  examination fees, candidates have to incur additional expenses for travel, boarding, lodging and other such activities. A single examination would reduce the financial burden on candidates to a large extent.

Women candidates to benefit 

Women candidates especially from rural areas face constraints in appearing in multiple examinations as they have to arrange for transportation and places to stay when exam centres are far away. They sometimes also have to find suitable persons to accompany them to these centres that are located far away. The location of test centres in every district would greatly benefit candidates from rural areas in general and women candidates in particular.

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