One of the most regulated sectors in the land with the greatest number of its players is the area of education, only next to agriculture along with the workforce in unorganised status, considering the three sections namely, students, teachers and administrators in institutions, both managed by Government and non-Government agencies. Classes functioning outside the territory of schools and colleges are familiar to the world of parents and guardians of their school-bound wards as coaching centres, mostly in urban spaces, invariably functioning beyond the school hours, yet holding attraction to both their captive students and their care-takers. The coaching centres have mushroomed to an extent that they have attained the status of enterprise, raising the issues of cost to the patrons and benefit to the students, not to forget monetary returns to the coaching agency. The feature that its faculty is drawn from the teachers on the rolls of schools that enjoy high rating in their respective cities seems to have made the powers-that-be red-faced.
The lofty ideal of schooling, commonly mistaken as education, namely moulding the growing child into an adult capable of facing life’s challenges, particularly unforeseen events causing frustration, seems to have got sidelined in the current dispensation, one of which is rushing the Pre-University class students to overcrowded coaching centres.
The coaching industry has its humble seeds in the form of home tuitions by school teachers of yesteryears receiving honorarium in amounts that may not fetch even a cup of coffee in today’s eateries. The industry’s dimension as revealed by the National Sample Survey Office can be gauged with the facts that more than seven crore students take private coaching accounting for about 12 per cent of a family’s expenses irrespective of their economic status. The only agenda of the coaching centres, also called teaching shops, is to enable the students to secure high rank in various entrance examinations seeking admission in prestigious institutions offering professional courses. The coaching centres have been perceived as proverbial villains by administration prompting a re-look at the industry.
The fire mishap a few days ago in a Surat’s coaching centre claiming lives of 22 students resulted in knee-jerk measure of closing all centres in Gujarat. The industry’s players will do well by introspecting on the issue of creating creativity and reset the goal of education in the long term, unarguably the key factor in building the country’s human capital.