Just Coaching

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Charu Vaid

To coach is to focus on very specific tasks and end goals, without the objective of a well-rounded development. With that sentiment in mind, let’s embark on a thought provoking critique of whether coaching really is enough, and what primarily are the pros and cons of achieving of success via this format of learning. Let’s also look at what got us here in the first place.

It goes without saying, that in addition to the research carried out, individuals from a wide spectrum of students and academicians graciously agreed to be interviewed. I will put my best foot forward in representing what I learnt.

In the current scenario under the Indian academic system, to leap from the secondary level of education to the post secondary level of education, students have two objectives in mind:

  1. a) To prepare for the board exams; and
  2. b) To prepare for entrance exams for a one or more of a variety of post secondary options available.

One has to understand though that the above-mentioned objectives do not expose or enable a student to skills like comprehension, analysis, critical thinking, conceptualization, and/or a combination of these, to produce work on paper. On the contrary, the development of these skills has been negatively impacted in students.

However, with these objectives comes in coaching. And that’s what we really are here to talk about. In the last few decades, India has seen a proliferation of a wide variety of coaching centres. These are out-of-school centres that prepare secondary level students to achieve good marks in board exams at the 12th standard, and teach techniques to the students to crack the entrance exam to get admission into post secondary institutions, the specializations of which range from hospitality management to law to medicine and engineering, with a wide variety within and between each one of these faculties.

Given that, the several coaching centres have provided employment to a myriad of people across India. In addition, the coaching centres have also created a revenue stream in the form of the publication of study notes, practice tests for board and entrance exams, and answer keys for the practice tests.

Majority of the parents utilize the coaching centres to ensure that their children are best prepared to cross that bridge between secondary and post secondary education. Which is not to say that these exact same children are not enrolled in schooling institutions, be it public or private. Now, here is the interesting bit. It is one thing to be ‘enrolled’ in an institution, and an entirely different thing from being enrolled, and ‘attending’ an institution.

Parents are dummy enrolling their children in schools, and then spending additional amounts of money to coaching centres to ensure the success of their children. Under dummy enrollments, the children are enrolled in a school, but they don’t attend any classes in that school. Instead, they utilize the same time to attend coaching classes. Which begs a few important questions. Has the general, and majority of Indian populace lost faith in the traditional education system? Are the traditional schools, and teaching and learning techniques not good enough to enable the students for the next step towards their academic life? Is there a need to put some thought into reengineering the current education system?

Despite all of this though, the reality is that India still has a great many good schools, and many very great teachers who do a great job in teaching and enabling students. Good teachers help lay a solid foundation to a child’s learning of concepts, as well fortify a child mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. Good institutions in combination with good teachers help in raising children who become future contributing adults who have high self-esteem, and confidence, in addition to being eloquent and knowledgeable.

However, most of these amazing schools are privately run. The tuition and ancillary fees for these schools are exorbitant. Which makes it cost prohibitive for many parents to have their children enrolled and educated in such schools. In addition, to get into such a school, one must have parents who are very well connected with the higher echelons of the Indian society or have a family member who has undertaken education at such schools already. These are the ground realities.

So, a niche privileged percentage of the families can send their children to these amazing schools. What about the great many others? They mostly have access to the taxpayer funded government schools. We all know, in the current scenario, what the condition of those schools is. It is a poignant and bitter truth that tax payer funded institutions are in such bad state. That is a highly thought provoking notion. Is taxpayers’ money being utilized to teach the future of this nation sitting under trees for the lack of infrastructure, and basic teaching and learning tools?

Let us dissect why coaching centres have been so successful in the recent past, where the taxpayer funded schools have failed. And, let us begin that by having a read at the opening webpage of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Trust of India (http://sarvashiksha.org.in/index.html):

The sentiment at the front and centre of this trust and initiative is awesome! The trust has been able to commit to and complete a lot of good work as well. Even though the sentiment and soul of this initiative has good intent, the implementation and resource utilization for taxpayer funded schools has been the Achilles’ heel unfortunately.

As previously mentioned, there are many more children who go through the taxpayer funded schools than those who go through the private schools. Most of these children come from poverty stricken backgrounds. One of the many banes of being poor is the lack of sufficient nourishment. As a beneficent idea of the trust to ensure that more children enrol and attend school, lunch meals were made an inherent part of this programme. However, the resource allocation was done in such a way, that educators and teachers were allocated to cook lunch meals in their respective schools. This most clearly and definitively distracted them from their prime duty of imparting knowledge. This immensely impacted the quality of education that children were getting.

To top this, via the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, it was ensured without any testing and examination mechanisms, all enrolled students graduate to the 8th standard at least. Not only were there no testing mechanisms for graduation to the next level, students who were unable to attend school, and their attendance was poor, where continuously shown as enrolled, without any penalty in place for lack of attendance.

The students, in so many cases graduated up to 8th standard, without actually gaining the knowledge and accountability that takes one to that level of education. To sum it, there was no premium on brilliance. Everyone was on the same level playing field, whether they put in the effort to consistently grow or not.

All these systemic problems have lead to the current state of existence of a plethora of coaching centres. Coaching centres in themselves are not bad, if and only if they are utilized to supplement and reinforce what has been learnt at school, as and when needed. To depend entirely on coaching centres to meet a certain end result of qualifying an exam due to an educational system that has failed, is bad.

WELCOME TO SARVA SHIKSHA ABHIYAN TRUST OF INDIA

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is a Public Charitable Trust registered under the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950 with a Registration No. E140692 (Mumbai) dated the 15th Sept. 1992. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has also the approvals in the formats u/s 35AC and u/s 80G of the Income Tax Act, 1961 and has also been registered under the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976).

BASIC FEATURES OF SARVA SHIKSHA ABHIYAN TRUST OF INDIA

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Trust and Society rules are registered to do social work at the national and international level. Our main Motive is to uplift and improve the Financial and Social status of India. It is an initiative to convert India from a Developing nation to a Developed nation.

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is founded by the energetic, committed and willing youth and well-wishers of the society. They work to improve the condition of people and society groups, who are living below the poverty line and are backward and illiterate. These well-wishers provide them with free food, education, health checkups and also give them an opportunity for self employment. The well-wishers make them independent so that they can also live confidently like others and help us to get near our goal of converting India into a developed nation.

Various Programs are being held by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Out of them the key programs are to Education. Eliminate UNEMPLOYMENT, ILLITERACY and POLLUTION and also to generate employment opportunities in the nation.

I will now take the readers’ leave by urging them to rethink if ‘Just Coaching’ is really enough to have bright, contributing future adults.

 

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