Coaching centres have only fostered a fiercely unhealthy competition among students which is taking a heavy toll on their mental health
A few weeks ago, a leading daily newspaper carried the account of increasing suicide cases by students undertaking coaching for competitive examinations in Kota, Rajasthan, the prime centre for the coaching industry in India. The following paragraph is extracted from the article Kota: As student suicides soar, ministers blame coaching ‘mafia’, the burden of education loans, published in Times of India on 29th August 2023.
Minister Mahesh Joshi recently said that the burden of educational loans on parents was one of the causes of stress among the students and the Centre must formulate a policy so that the parents do not have to borrow money for education. Food and Civil Supplies Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas alleged that coaching institutes in Kota were only interested in collecting money. He termed coaching centres as Mafia and said the government would have to take strict action against them. “When we were children, there was no coaching. Were students not becoming IPS then? A mafia has emerged in the name of coaching and the government will have to take strict action against it”, Khachariyawas said.
Viewed deeply and analytically, it has become a net drain on national resources. It distorted the already incongruous educational system foisted on the country during India’s colonial period in the early 19th century ( 1835) by the Britisher Thomas Babington Macaulay.
All coaching centres in India should be banned. Here are seven reasons why.
lThey do not serve the professed basic purpose of coaching for competitive examinations—selection of best applicants or aspirants. The best students will be selected even if there are no coaching centres. In fact, in the absence of coaching centres selection of the best students will be more genuine because it will be based on self-study and raw talent.
lCoaching centres are partly the product of a non-uniform pattern of education in the country in which different syllabi and text materials are prescribed for different states.
lCoaching centres are a huge drain on the monetary resources of economically middle and lower-class families who have to educate their children for professional streams. The huge expenditure often breaks the back of poor families who have to run this rate race.
lA limited number of seats in professional institutions and a burgeoning student population make the competition tougher and tougher each year. This stresses the young aspirants physically and mentally. Many of them, unfortunately, failing to cope with this enormous stress, end their precious lives. The current market revenue of the coaching industry in India is Rs 58,088 crore, according to Infinium Global Research, a consultancy firm based in Pune. The coaching industry's growth is projected to reach Rs 1,33,995 crore by 2028. This is a colossal waste because this industry is providing no net value addition to our student community and society at large.
l As mentioned above, we have to gauge the adverse effect of coaching centres on established, formal schools and educational institutions. They suffer because many of their regular teachers neglect their jobs and perform part-time private tuitions which groom the students to make them coaching centre-ready.
lOur industry should be productive, creative, innovative and progressive for all sections of society. Industries that run parallel to and are detrimental to existing established institutions are a bane for society and the nation at large. The coaching industry is one such industry that has inflicted incalculable harm to the existing educational institutions and has economically burdened the society by creating unhealthy, morbid competition which is manifesting itself in such symptoms as suicides by frustrated students. Our government should realize this stark truth and come down heavily on the coaching mafia playing havoc with our society. Our society has traditionally maintained an economic environment of cooperation, collaboration and healthy competition but these coaching centres have only fostered a fiercely unhealthy competition which is slowly and surely killing the spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship among the students affected by it in large numbers. Our elite should put pressure on the government to promulgate laws that will put an end to all coaching centres in the country.
Needless to say, the government must establish more professional institutions of good standard to serve the needs of the burgeoning population. Encouraging start-ups and entrepreneurship in a bigger way will also bring down the enormous competition generated due to limited seats in academic institutions and limited professional positions in government organizations. The coaching industry is outright non-productive and should be done away with as early as possible.
(The author is a management consultant based in New Delhi; views are personal)