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Coaching Class Mania

Coaching Class Mania

September 23, 2011
Jaai Vipra

As education in schools deteriorates, a silent new player is taking over the industry sans regulation.

Come the season of exam results and your newspaper starts to resemble a strange photo album: intelligent-looking kids staring at you from every page. Tagged to them are marks, ranks… it’s the annual coaching class parade. “XYZ Tutorials has done it again! Another batch of toppers!” And something else that isn’t mentioned: “XYZ Tutorials has done it again! Another fee increase!”

Coaching classes have come a long way from the friendly neighbourhood aunty, who took up tutoring as a source of supplementary income. Today they are mammoth institutions with tens of branches across the country, very professionally organized and, of course, huge revenues. The ‘personal attention’ benefit is gone, with compulsory slogging taking its place.

School is ol’ school. School exists only for legitimacy. Most Indian teenagers can’t do without coaching classes. But can private coaching classes replace schools? They are certainly on the way of rendering schools redundant after eighth grade. However, there are some issues that coaching classes face today:

Sky-high fees: There is virtually no limit to the amount of fees a coaching class can charge, directly as well as indirectly. One of the indirect, very popular methods, is the levying of fines for every conceivable offence—from missing a lecture or being late for one, to not topping a test. These arbitrary charges cannot even be challenged, usually because the fees for a course are paid in full and in adavnce, and refunds are not an option.

The ‘buying’ and ‘stealing’ of toppers: Every year there are complaints from students who top competitive exams that some classes take undue credit for their achievements. More often than not, when these classes say ‘our student’, they mean they’d e-mailed her notes once. It is also not uncommon for toppers to be offered money to write a testimonial for some class. All these results increase the prestige of a class and consequently give them more reason to increase fees.

Harassment: Although not rampant, this is not unheard of. A tutor from Mumbai has been to jail for quite a few times for allegedly molesting students. The continuing popularity of this person’s classes could point towards either clout or, ahem, great teaching. In another class, weak students were told to drop out in a bid to maintain impeccable results and also, shockingly, a member of the management of the same class told the students who didn’t make it to IIT to “go drown.”

Seeing that coaching classes have become a parallel education industry that is flourishing despite injustices, a regulatory body seems unavoidable. Simultaneously, recognition and grants could be made available to the deserving classes, and schools could be better equipped to prepare students for competitive exams. Or better still, our competitive exams could see a few reforms.


7 Comments

  • Jaai Vipra
    By
    Jaai Vipra
    25.09.11 02:58 PM
    @Meera: It's great to have a teacher's opinion on this. If all teachers were so concerned maybe coaching classes would lose one of the reasons for their existence. Thank you.

    @Karan: That is true, and I agree. That's why we should look towards improving school education in our urban centres also. Standards should be higher. Thank you.

    @Nachiket: Thank you! :)

    @Joseph: That's something I hadn't though of. There was a really funny (FakingNews, I think) article about how IIT coaching classes were admitting foetuses. Science students get used to the slogging but they envy everyone else. Thank you.

    @Kirklops: I don't know, most science students/IIT aspirants I know are quite competent socially. But maybe that's the case only in Mumbai. Thank you.

    @Barnaby: Thanks a lot! I look forward to writing more (and better.)
  • Barnaby Haszard Morris
    By
    Barnaby Haszard Morris
    25.09.11 02:49 PM
    Very interesting article and comments. Welcome to the team, Jaai!
  • Kirklops
    By
    Kirklops
    24.09.11 01:55 PM
    As others have commented, with societal and parental pressure to attend coaching classes and gain admission to a top notch engineering or medical school, the all round development of a child is put at risk. For instance, recently there was this Faking News status that was doing the rounds - "The word "Engineer" is derived from "Anjaneyar" (or Hanuman), who built a bridge and didn't hang around with girls. So now you know."

    This is a light hearted joke but hidden beneath is a subtle fact. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. With activities such as sport that develop camaraderie being discouraged as the child enters the teenage years, the seeds for such social incapability are laid way before the student steps into the college.

    This isn't really of much concern since with a degree from a good institute one can be 'successful' in life. The social part can come later. Trouble is, it doesn't.

    We really do have an unhealthy definition of success.
  • Joseph James
    By
    Joseph James
    24.09.11 12:53 AM
    Jaai Vipra has merely revealed the tip of the iceberg. Look at Kota, the Mecca of coaching. When one enters the city, what greets one is large cutouts of 'famous' teachers of coaching institutes. Many of these are the products of prestigious institutes like the IITs and have given up lucrative careers to take up coaching, where they earn much more than what any industry can pay. These coaching institutes prepare the students for IIT-JEE or AIEEE. They do deliver the goods as they have several advantages over conventional schools. First, they don't have to waste time over 'useless' subjects like EVS or languages. Not for them such useless pursuits as sports and c0curricular activities. They have highly motivated students who are willing to put in an average of 15 hours of study. The high fees they charge (anything upwards of 60K) enable them to provide efficient logistical support to teaching. They have built up an enviable bank of questions including the latest questions of every entrance test in the country. Tests are conducted every fortnight with religious regularity. The results are published the very next day. Students who perform badly in any test will have to suffer the ignominy of being relagated to a lower group. This keeps them on pins and needles. If they want additional help, there are enough freelancers who are willing to assist them, of course for a price. These students don't have to attend regular classes as there are many schools in and around Kota, which are ready to promote them from XI to XII without any exams as long they pay their hefty fees regularly. This is in addition to the fees they pay the coaching institutes. Most residents of Kota have constructed annexes/extensions to provide accommodation to the students and earn a tidy monthly income. The nearer the house to a coaching institute, the greater the rent. Industrious housewives run messes for the students.In short, the economy of Kota, which was on the verge of collapse due to sick industries, has received a shot in the arm from the mushrooming of coachng institutes. This has been going on for a decade now. It's not that the Board is unaware of the weaning away of students from regular schools. Why there hasn't been any action/regulation is anybody's guess. One thing is pretty clear. All the world loves a coaching institute.
    A similar coaching revolution has occurred in Hyderabad and spread to the whole of Andhra. What they offer is even better. They train the students for both entrance exams and regular XII boards. Students spend nearly 12 hours in classrooms, with absolutely no recreation or other cocurricular pursuits. In fact, these classes are conducted in multi-storey buildings with hardly any compound or playground. They do produce results. The credit for Andhra's spectacular success in IIT-Jee should go to them. They are immensely popular with the parents. No entrance examination reform envisaged by IITs or CBSE is going to affect them as their ability to adapt is much higher than that of regular institutions.
    So, what if the students are losing their childhood? So, what if the students don't get an opportunity for all round development? So, what if they don't imbibe ethical or social values? It's a small price to pay for SUCCESS.
  • Nachiket Kulkarni
    By
    Nachiket Kulkarni
    23.09.11 09:36 PM
    nice article Jaai.... There's no bigger business today than education!!!
  • Karan Chugh
    By
    Karan Chugh
    23.09.11 07:48 PM
    Although I agree with most of your points, it is also a fact that these coaching classes help! They prove to be beneficial for many who are below average, or when a teacher in school is least interested in teaching..In coaching classes, more attention is given to the children than in school where 50-60 children sit in a class.
  • Meera Trivedi
    By
    Meera Trivedi
    23.09.11 06:40 AM
    For the sucess of these coaching institte one thing is responsible.
    Parents pay money then they take care of the children that are they studing or not?
    I have felt several times if schools don't run by our tax dollars but parents pay directly to the school as fee the diciplene will be different and the desire to learn will be different.

    I remember my mother who was not high school bt use to teach me maths of grade 9th Algebra, etc. But I have taught private tution to the grade one student. Mom had nothing to do in out side world than socialization and going to beauti parlor.
    If you think about western countries every 14 years old has a job from 6-9 pm at least 20 hors a week bt these Indian students in India have their birth right to roam with the friends from 4to 7. Poor father is bssy in earning bread for the family alone.
    if you count 3 hors from the 14 hors day time just for socialization why?
    Whay can't they work and with that money they pay their tution fee too. I have taght in India in private school and public school and know the mentality of student parents and teaher too.
    Western student learns responisibility by working since the age of 14. Knows the value of heard earn money. And by facing several interviews up to the final one he/she knows how to sell himself/herself very nicely. But Indian students. I will say about myself That by the "hard work to earn 300RS per month, in a month I realised as much hard work I am doing if I wold have worked so much in my student life I would never have been ust here" This is a high jump between jeevan aur shiksan"

    Every student of 14 years of age should work give the money in parents hand and let them usefor their education. ( I am not in favor of giving money in teenagers hand which can be spent on cigerrete or Drugs) Everyday there has to be few hours of study time. And parents should take care that children have solved all the maths of the book 3 times or not have they given 3 reading of every topic ot not. If they will do this their brain will not work but hand will work in examination hall.

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