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Coaching Centre: Is there a brighter side?

The very sight of a FIITJEE or Aakash centre elicits a strong reaction from many of us. It

may be dread, gloom or even exasperation. We know what a place like that does to a student. No one likes it and yet, to our dismay, the coaching business is on the rise like never before. 

Student suicides, as one IIT professor allegedly put it, are now ‘routine.’”, writes Rohitha Naraharisetty in their article “The Deserving and the Damned,” as seen in The Swaddle, an article dealing with the said public emergency that is student suicides. The number of student suicides is increasing rapidly. Reasons may range from parents' high expectations, and academic pressure from the coaching institutes to feeling the need to keep up with one’s peers

Because Mum said so

Many parents or guardians believe these centres to be a necessity. “It is the parents who are putting undue pressure on their children, coaching institutes cannot be blamed”, the Supreme Court observed.

Here’s what my friend hears from her parents every time she tries to bring up passions she wishes to pursue, “These things are not going to work in the long run as you won't be financially independent even if you get to become an artist, because, in India, these jobs are not given enough respect.”

The competitive nature of Indian education requires more knowledge and skills to secure a prominent position and sustain one’s lifestyle. Another reason is that many of them need to be made aware of the opportunities available to the students in many other ways rather than just appearing for competitive exams which sometimes seems like a rat race. Many parents tend to ignore important conversations with their children that concern the interests and dreams of the latter. “Parents should not exert undue pressure on children”, writes the Times of India.

Peer pressure

Peer pressure plays a vital role in influencing a child to be a part of a coaching centre. The

influence of peers can be both negative and positive. Where peers serve as an incentive for the students to perform well they may lead students to ignore focusing on what they want. When a student moves to 11th standard, pursuing their areas of interest, they might choose the subjects that align with the interests of their peers. Since these may not necessarily be interests of their own, they fall behind, left feeling insecure and stressed. Due to this comparison and peer pressure, they find themselves standing nowhere in the crowd of brilliant minds. All these situations are not easy to handle by a child all alone because these innocent eyes never know what they're about to experience from now onwards. But why, even after knowing that it is stressful to be a part of this group, do students choose it out of their own will?

Coaching centre’s Viewpoint

Coaching institutes are aware of the pressure that accompanies the dream of clearing competitive exams. “Coaching centres themselves feel burdened due to loads of work as they have to prepare worksheets, notes, test papers and evaluation of these as well”, says Mr Ankit Gupta, a former teacher at Byju’s.

As for the suicides: The Quint says, “From family problems and unemployability to mental illnesses to discrimination and abuse – many factors together contribute to suicidal tendencies.” That's why it's suggested that the availability of healthcare services including mental health support must be ensured at the institutions for all students. Institutes also attract kids by promoting themselves through various ways, the most prevalent is fake branding and commitment to false promises, which has been declared illegal by the Government of India according to the guidelines issued in January 2024.

Where did we go wrong?

Our education system seems to be a little outdated. 

India has produced numerous genius minds, being an old education apparatus. However, it lags in many spheres when compared to the current times and developments taking place many things still need to be updated and asked for reformation. The biggest loophole in our structure is the poor grading system which judges a student’s capability based on how well they reproduce facts stored in their memory. 

Our policy of creating brilliant minds limits itself only to encouraging children to mug up whatever they are taught instead of grasping concepts efficiently. 

What do we really need?

Students need to be taught to embrace uncertainty and not be intimidated by it. “Unless education is refashioned, we would embrace the 21st century with a 19th-century mindset, that will result in failure.”, mentions The Quint. 

Concerning this, the Union Government of India introduced the ‘New Education Policy’ or NEP in 2020. “‘Holistic development’ is one mantra in the NEP”, writes The Wire. But it didn't work as planned because this has burdened the students. They have to spend most of their days in classes as the number of lectures in courses has been reduced, which takes

away time for student activities, thus diminishing their “holistic development”. The proposal also includes overhauling the entire education system, encompassing school regulations and governance, to establish a new system that aligns with the aspirational goals of 21st-century education while respecting India's traditions, culture, and values. Technology will be integrated into education through various existing and proposed initiatives, such as interactive textbooks, high-quality e-learning materials to enhance teacher and student skills, and question banks designed around learning outcomes, but these developments still lay abandoned in their efficient execution.

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