Twin Brothers of the Education System

4 minute read |

“And Then There Were Two. Two Twins. - Capitalizing on Education”

In India, there are two parallel education systems at play. One is the traditional and officially recognized education system of schools and examination boards. It has a regulatory body which ensures that affiliated schools actually do follow the guidelines and rules that they are supposed to. The other is a completely independent and privately owned preparatory school (a.k.a Coaching Classes) system run and regulated by no authority other than the businessmen who own them. Both of these systems, unlike in the USA and the UK, are very much intertwined and therefore inseparable. Contrary to the misconception that they apply primarily to STEM students, this ‘Hybrid’ system is equally used by other students as well.

The level of competition for a graduating high-school student in India is unbelievably high. Just see the Statistics! For the most part, this competition shows its true colors in the entrance examinations that a candidate must take in order to gain admission into a college or university. These tests are the sole criteria that decide the admission of the candidate. The number of applicants far exceeds the number of seats and not all seats are worth their money in terms of post-graduation or job opportunities. Many engineering colleges in India lack basic infrastructure and faculty. This makes the number of seats that students are willing to settle for even fewer. Unsurprisingly, this makes the two months after high-school, a time for serious studies where stress levels run high. Needless to say that for most, and perhaps everyone, this time is the deciding time of their life. At least that’s how it is perceived. Naturally, a candidate then would go ahead to pursue any legitimate measure in order to gain an extra edge. Enter Coaching Classes and an Army of After-School Teachers!

Coaching Classes - Insight

A coaching class, to the surprise of many, is similar in many aspects to a regular school class. There is a classroom packed with students, a teacher teaches, takes questions from the class, gives problems to solve, and explains solutions with examples. The difference lies in the goals of the institutions. A coaching class is formed with the sole purpose of equipping the student with the tools and knowledge necessary to just crack the university entrance examinations. It fills the void generated by the twin counterpart’s incompetence in this regard. The education in these institutes costs a lot too - a price almost every candidate who can afford it is willing to pay! As it is a business, the output or productivity of every class must be kept high (by any means possible). At the end of the day, statistics is what makes a student choose one coaching center over the other. In order to do that, a coaching class narrows down the focus only to what is needed for the entrance examinations.

Is the Twin Brother, The Antagonist?

Many people say that coaching centers are like parasites which have plagued the magnificent and glorious education system of this country. That is one polarizing and aggressive suggestion! Also, this is a highly debatable question.

One of the major arguments put forward is that Coaching Classes shift the candidate’s focus from the practical application of the subject and makes them focus, perhaps too deep, into the theoretical aspect. Without doubt, it is true. There is very little, if any, energy spent on practical applications of what is taught in a coaching class. But, so is practically true for its twin counterpart as well. In schools too, in an attempt to elevate the statistics of their result, focus on practicals is kept at a minimum! This is primarily a consequence of the tremendous privatization of the education sector.

Another argument is that “Only the rich and wealthy have access to these after-school facilities”. In Big Cities coaching classes are no longer exclusive to the rich and the wealthy. On the contrary, in smaller cities they add to the disparity in the quality of education received by the different classes. But so is also the case with the so called completely regulated schooling system since they are privately owned as well. All this only worsens the already caste/economic division of the nation.

Personally, I find that coaching classes do not have a parasitic relationship with the education system. Their existence is a testimony to the fact that the education and the evaluation criterion do not go hand-in-hand. They only fulfill a need, a void created by the incompetency of their counterpart to provide a holistic and complete education given the evaluation criterion. This incompetency is in turn fueled by the disparity in the ideals preached by the regulatory authorities and values considered by the evaluation system while scrutinizing university applications. It is also said that the evaluation system is kept so objective because of the incapacity to process all applications subjectively inside such a big applicant base. Something that, perhaps, might only be resolved by a total upheaval of the education system!

For a solution, we generally look towards the west. But in this case that won’t help because of the vast differences in the socio-economic and cultural setup. Instead we need to find a solution ourselves which befits the great diversity of India and its culture. One that solves the core problems for the students, the education system and the future of our country.

See Also:

Nita J. Kulkarni’s Blog Post - Impact of coaching classes on a nation’s psyche

Live Mint - Coaching centre institutes turn to opening formal schools

NDTV - With 100 percent, she can’t get into SRCC