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Though students manage to score a high percentage of marks after going through a coaching-class course, experts say that these outfits compromise on the quality of education—crucial for employability
Arti Patil (name changed) works as a household help. She has taken two extra household jobs to pay the tuition fee for her son who studies in the ninth standard. “I had no option but to send him to coaching classes, as I cannot personally teach him. He insists on going to classes—as all his friends attend these classes,” Arti told Moneylife. These courses don’t come cheap. Arti has paid Rs11,000 as annual fee for her son’s coaching classes.
There are many such cases where parents find it of great importance to send their children to for private tuition or coaching-class courses. And the result is the huge number of such classes mushrooming at every corner of almost every city across India. Be it coaching for the tenth standard or preparing students for IITs (the Indian Institutes of Technology), IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management), engineering colleges and medical entrance examinations, these shops aim to cater to every category of education—both at the school, higher secondary, college or post-graduate level.
Of course, for these classes, the business is highly lucrative. For instance, Mahesh Tutorials, which is one of the veterans in this sector, had a turnover of Rs100 crore in 2010, according to a media report. Venture capitalist Helix Investments had invested $8 million in 2007 in Mahesh Tutorials. Apart from these bigger names, there are many small tutorials and individuals who give private tuitions—all claiming a high success ratio.
However, according to experts, it is a debatable point if these classes actually help students. When IT doyen Narayana Murthy, Infosys Technologies’ founder, commented recently on the quality of IIT graduates and the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) to gain admission into these hallowed institutions, the debate has once again started on the quality of coaching classes. The reason—a number of students who make it to IITs and IIMs actually go through coaching classes. These classes do help students to crack the written examinations, but what about the employability of these students, even after they pass out from these elite institutes?
Sandeep Aneja, founder and managing director, Kaizen Private Equity—India’s first equity fund focused on the education sector—told Moneylife, “It’s a very competitive world. As far as coaching classes are concerned, a lot depends on the philosophy of the parents. Parents who are concerned that their child should secure high marks and get admitted to a good college send their children to coaching classes. The clear aim of sending children to such classes is to target a good percentage and be prepared for the exams and other competitive entrance tests. Without commenting on the quality of such coaching classes, I would definitely say that in this whole bargain, there is a compromise on the quality of learning.”
Ramesh Arunachalam, a developmental professional, told us, “Coaching classes must emphasise quality, even if they pursue scale. Scale without quality is of no use as without good knowledge of fundamentals, students will suffer in the long run. Today rush for scale by coaching institutes has meant that students get substandard tutorials, which leaves everyone worse off. So, coaching institutions must not comprise on quality for reaching scale.”
A professor of media studies, who spoke to Moneylife requesting anonymity, said that “students are taught in a mechanical way in coaching classes, and hence it is only reading and reproducing the same in an examination. Though there are exceptional students who genuinely study hard, others manage to score on the basis of mugging the answers.”
For parents, it has become almost a norm to send their kids for coaching. Some say that even teachers at schools rely on tuitions and adapt to a rapid way of teaching a course to complete the portion and finish a particular course. “My child is an above-average student, but he is a slow learner when it comes to languages. During the open house day, when I interacted with his teacher, she asked me to send him to tuition so that he could score even better,” says the mother of a tenth-standard student.
On the other hand, coaching classes blame schools for not completing courses on schedule. When asked about the growing popularity of attending coaching classes, an official from a Mumbai-based class said, “The portion remains incomplete and students are left to study on their own. The busy lifestyle of working parents is also a result of the increase in the number of students coming to classes.”
Meanwhile, enrolment rates in coaching classes are going up. In this era of rapid globalisation, will such students be able to complete with the best and brightest of the world?