As more and more coaching centres come in, they bring along with them a mechanised system of imparting education. Students are drilled for long hours on a set number of topics, with pre-defined methodologies which leave little scope for development of creativity in children. These institutes are churning out robots.
According to Monu Seth, education expert, the result is a uni-dimensional child, who lacks social skills and is prone to frequent bouts of depression. “Another fallout of such a system is that it barely leaves any time for children to get involved in physical activities, leading to poor physical development. The rat race for entering IITs has created an atrocious culture with no attention being paid to the holistic development of the child,” he said.
“The situation is thus the duty of a school teacher has been passed on to the private coaching centres. Even though it is the school teacher who is qualified enough to teach the students, today the situation is such people who are either less or overqualified are taking classes for the students. They don’t understand the needs of the students! The situation has a very demoralising effect on the teachers who find themselves at the receiving end of not only the schools but also the parents,” he said.
Besides, the strenuous study pattern is stealing the precious years from the children. “At an age when they should be developing a creative bent of mind by coming up with new ideas and building or exploring new things, the children are forced to coop up in classes poring over volumes and volumes of study material,” he said. According to him, the fear of failure reduces relaxation time to almost zero: Students study when in class and when outside as well, copying borrowed notes, finishing reams of homework.
“Many students watch video tutorials and do exercises provided by correspondence courses or other coaching institutes. They are ‘always on’. This state of life and the sheer monotony of the routine stretch between 2 to 4 years at the cost of around Rs 2 lakh per annum taking its toll on the student. Peer pressure discourages students from hanging out and social ostracism awaits those found indulging in ‘distractions’,” he said. According to Prakash Chandran, psychologist, hyper-competitiveness keeps adrenaline levels constantly high. “Except for a small minority that tops classes, all others live in a constant state of disappointment; feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness accumulate over time leading to persistent low self-worth,” he said. All these ultimately lead to suicides, he added. “Just like in the case of board exams when the students are under high pressure to perform, clearing entrance examinations, especially prestigious ones like IIT, takes its toll,” he added.
Also, many students have alleged hostel life is drudgery, he said. “From 5:30 am till 6:30 to 7 pm the kids have to keep their noses buried deep in the books. However, everyone, including the parents, forget many of these students are not cut out to be engineers or doctors. They might have other dreams and aspirations. Instead of letting them pursue what their hearts desire, these poor kids are forced to take up courses for which they have no aptitude whatsoever,” he said. The high dropout rates in the engineering colleges call for the need to revamp the entire entrance examination system, he added. “Instead of solely depending on the entrance examinations, a system should be developed that involves students showcasing their engineering skills for admissions to engineering colleges,” he said. In order to loosen the tight grip these coaching centres have, they need to be regularised, he added.
What coaching centres have to say
“We are not creating robots,” said Stephen Joseph, director, Brilliant Study Centre. “The allegations being made are wrong. I think the problem is in the attitude of the people,” he said. What we are doing at our study centre is to help them develop the ability to solve application-level problems, he added. “The normal examinations are descriptive in nature but that is not the case for entrance examinations. It can be seen those who score good marks in the board examinations don’t do well in the entrance tests,” he said. He said, “We don’t discriminate among students. Everyone is taught in the same classroom and is provided with the same study materials.” Of course, the admission is not open for all, he said. “Only those who have an aptitude are given admission to our coaching classes,” he said.
“Most parents are not sympathetic to the travails and torture of the coaching experience, and advice their kids to stay the course for the good things that will come their way once they get admitted to the IITs. In the case of what can be termed as coaching cities which are populated by aspirants from small towns and rural areas, parental pressure can be severe. This can be due to incapacity to comprehend the nature of professional education and the great financial risks they may have taken to fund the coaching,” said a retired professor.