The coaching centre conundrum

Ripu Daman Gupta

Rajni was looking tired in the class and not coping with her academics; she always seemed frustrated. I decided to counsel her. On asking about the reason for her behaviour, she mentioned that she was not able to make the time to complete her homework as she had to manage another school (coaching classes) outside school. There are several students like Rajni, overloaded and unable to complete their school work in time because they have to attend coaching classes too. It is time that we weighed the pros and cons of these coaching centers and took a serious look at the damage they are causing children.

In the senior secondary classes, the pressure on the child is always high to choose between the coaching centre and the school. The main reason for absenteeism and lack of concentration is the inability of the students to manage their time. Private tuitions and coaching classes are flourishing, holding out the promise of preparing students for admission to professional courses like MBBS and engineering. The rising ambitions of parents to send their children to prestigious colleges are ruining the daily schedule of students who don’t have the time for study on their own, besides having hardly any time after school to rest.

The question that arises is, “Do we really need coaching centres outside school?” What are the advantages and disadvantages of having coaching centres or private tuitions for students outside school?

Advantages of coaching centres

  • Education level of parents: It is possible that the parents may not have the capacity to guide their child in his/her studies. It is then inevitable that the child wants proper guidance and help, which leads to the proliferation of these coaching institutes.
  • Personalized instruction: In a class of 40-45 students, there is hardly any time in which students can clarify their doubts from teachers in the school. Private tuitions allow a student and teacher to give more time to the subject.
  • Adopting different learning strategies: Coaching centres use different learning strategies for different students and their learning pace is also monitored in a specific manner for each subject especially for competitive exams so that these students have an edge over other students.
  • Specific learning deficiencies: If a child is weak in a subject and he wants extra help, but is unable to ask the teacher in school as she is very rigid or because he fears his classmates’ jokes and sarcasm.
  • Enough learning time: Children attend coaching classes for specific subjects only and hence can pay full attention unlike in school where they have to switch from subject to subject. Coaching classes also serve as a backup for missed classes.
  • Shortcuts for competitions: These days coaching centres give a lot of tips and shortcut methods for cracking entrance exams.
  • Sure success in entrance exams: Coaching centres not only provide students extra material in the form of notes but also assure their admission to prestigious colleges by giving them several mock tests for practice. Coaching institutes help the child overcome specific learning deficiencies in the concerned subject.
  • Skilled teachers: Teachers, mentors, who are teaching in these institutes are highly focused and readily available to the students to tackle the difficulties related to entrance exams.

Disadvantages of coaching centres

  • Cost factor: Coaching centres are expensive and not very affordable for the typical middle class family. But with aspirations to provide what they believe is the very best for their children, parents end up borrowing money and making compromises so that they can send their children to these centres.
  • Monotonous life and health impact: Every child requires time for recreation and relaxation. Heavy academics and busy schedule of these coaching centres burden the life of the children. With no time to relax and always stressed these children quickly succumb to headache, fatigue, cervical pain, obesity and eye disorders, in the long run.
  • Lack of concentration: Many students don’t concentrate in school because they know that they can learn the same thing in their coaching centres.
  • School absenteeism: Students who go to coaching centres sometimes don’t go to school as they are fatigued and not in a mood to sit in the school for long durations. They do not worry about the school curriculum and depend entirely on the coaching centres.
  • Emphasis on marks rather than overall development: There is always more emphasis on marks and rote learning as students want to score good marks. Coaching centres usually don’t worry about concept building, creating inquisitiveness and problem solving; as a result, students clear their entrance exams but fail to obtain the required aggregate to pass in CBSE boards.
  • Parental and peer group pressure: There is always a strong pressure on the child from the parents to score better and to qualify the entrance exam. Classmates also compete to score better in class. Peer group pressure also becomes a source of frustration and rising anger among the students. This leaves students anxious and stressed.
  • Conflict in the students: The course content of any chapter which is being taught in the school is completely different from the content being taught in the coaching institutes. This might become a source of confusion for the students.
  • Students from different backgrounds: Students from various schools/boards come to coaching institutes whose methodology of teaching is different from that of the schools. Then there is a source of conflict in students’ understanding and pace of studies in different subjects.
  • Attraction of teachers towards coaching centres: Fewer hours of teaching and additional perks along with higher salaries are attracting the most intelligent and smart teachers into the coaching business where their work load is lighter with flexible time duration too.

Coaching centres are breeding like rabbits. One out of every 4 students is attending a coaching centre*. These institutes are profit based ventures whose main motive is to earn money. They are less concerned about the future of the children. This mushrooming can be prevented if coaching institutes are run within the school premises after school hours. Any student who wants extra help can stay back in the school and attend classes after a short interval. These classes can be taken by subject experts (retired professors) from outside the school or by senior subject teachers.

This system will definitely have advantages in the long run as students do not have to move from one place to another for classes. It will save time, energy and resources for the students. Students can devote time to independent study. Parents are also relaxed about the security of the students. Fees can be subsidized if they run in school after school hours, as these institutes do not need to pay rent to run the coaching centres. There will be more interaction between parents, students and teachers and it will definitively improve relations between them.

Sustained efforts of teachers and parents will ensure overall success of the students.

*https://www.livemint.com/Politics/Dk8ry9VQkyRXcsJVHp9aNJ/Private-tuition-outside-schools-colleges-thrives-in-India.html

The author is a senior biology teacher at Salwan Public School, New Delhi. She can be reached at [email protected].

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