Union Minister of Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar on Monday said the Central Board of Secondary Education would continue to conduct the Central Teacher Eligibility Test in 20 languages.

The minister issued the statement hours after The Times of India reported that the education board had removed 17 of the 20 language options for this year’s test, retaining just Hindi, English and Sanskrit. Candidates are allowed to choose two languages out of the 20 options.

The test is mandatory for appointment to the Kendriya Vidyalayas as well as private institutions affiliated to the CBSE. The test is divided into two papers – one for those applicants who wish to teach Classes 1 to 5 and the other for those opting to teach Classes 6 to 8. The test has two compulsory language sections. While the first is to decide proficiency in the chosen medium of instruction, the second is for communication and comprehension.

Earlier in the day, experts said the CBSE’s decision could leave candidates from southern states at a disadvantage. In 2016, around 7.06 lakh candidates across the country applied for the test, including 12,700 from Tamil Nadu.

The former director of government exams, K Devarajan, told The Times of India that in Tamil Nadu candidates select English as their first preference and Tamil as the second language.

“Rights of minority language students from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, West Bengal and Gujarat have been denied,” educationist Prince Gajendra Babu told the newspaper. “If teachers are not allowed to write in these languages, how will they teach students?”