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Is Coaching Culture A Bane For The Indian Education System?

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The honourable Supreme Court (SC) of India recently said that the entrance to medical and engineering colleges in India should not be based on just the entrance exam score. Importance should be given to the school exam marks as well. The SC order also stated that the Central government should come with a body to regulate the private coaching institutes.

This brings our attention to the very important subject of school vs. coaching institutes.

I recently met a student Divya, who is studying in class 10, in a school located in Delhi. She was a class topper but she was worried since all her friends had been joining engineering and medical coaching institutes. That too in class 9 and 10. She was worried about being left behind as she hadn’t joined any coaching class. Her mother added, “I see Divya’s friends and classmates joining coaching institutes and I feel my daughter is lagging behind as she has not joined a coaching institute right now.”

Divya was guided to get into designing as a career option, based on her abilities, personality and interest. She was also advised to stay away from coaching institutes in class 10 and even later. She was told to not get burdened because of the decision of her friends to go for coaching classes, but believe in her own abilities. She gained her confidence, started believing in her own abilities and on the potential of learning in school.

Herd Mentality

It’s not just Divya who thinks like this. Most Indian students aspire to join a private tuition or a private coaching institute because of herd mentality and societal expectations. This herd mentality has been established by the private coaching institutes. Such institutes generate a mindset where you start believing that a student who has not joined a coaching program won’t be successful in the future. And this lie spreads. This is a classic sales pitch for private coaching institutes. They utilise it through advertisements, in which they portray their ex-students who cleared entrance exams because of their coaching and are successful in life.

I understand and believe in privatisation of education in India as it can improve quality and help the government. However, it should not be at the cost of selling false aspirations and dreams to students and definitely not if the only agenda of these coaching institutes is to make a profit. There has to be a balance between business and education. It cannot be derived from greediness.

We pay a larger cost when such students do not focus on the core fundamental education. A much larger issue arises when the students start believing that for anything to be learned or to be successful, we have to get enrolled in a coaching institute or a private tuition. Why should that be the case?

Rote Learning & Practice Test Learning Methodology

Private coaching institutes in India have created an out-of-school learning system which is based on rote learning and practice tests. It does not focus on fundamental learning, building of concepts or creating a free mind which makes students think out of the box. It restricts students as it is a restrictive education system based on past exam papers.

Annually, one million students flock to Kota, a city in the state of Rajasthan, which is also the hub of coaching institutes to crack the prestigious engineering and medical entrance exams. Coaching institutes in Kota have tied up with schools who allow the coaching institute students to completely skip class 11 and 12, and attend only the institute classes for 8-10 hours per day. Students aspiring to crack engineering entrances are only being taught physics, chemistry and maths. The ones aspiring to become doctors are taught chemistry and biology, along with physics. After studying day and night for two years, some of the students due to rote learning and practice based learning methodology clear the entrance exams to get into IITs & medical schools. Such critical two years of a student is just fixed on ‘lousy’ learning methodology of coaching institutes. More importantly, such students skip important subjects like English and other vocational subjects which are taught in school. Additionally, there is a huge difference between the learning environment at school and these coaching institutes.

Forced Aspirations Leading To Young Students Committing Suicides

Kota alone sees a huge number of student suicides every year. Students are being pushed by their parents to study subjects in which they have no interest.

Do We Really Need Such Coaching To Clear Entrance Exams?

According to a report published by IIT-Guwahati (the conducting body for IIT-JEE 2016), 52.4% of students who qualified for the IIT entrance exam in 2016 never took any coaching for entrance exam preparation and studied on their own. Such statistics clearly prove that you do not necessarily need to join a coaching centre to clear entrance exams and achieve success. This should bring back our attention to improving the learning environment in school which can clearly allow a student to learn and even clear such entrance exams.

Why Are Indian School Teachers Not Doing Their Job?

Many Indian school teachers make hefty amounts of money by providing tuitions outside school. Lots of teachers are not doing their job in the schools. And such behaviour is due to very low and stagnant salaries of school teachers in India. We need to understand the importance of teachers and their efforts. They need to be paid at par with people in other professions in the market. Only then will schools have the authority to regulate such behaviour of teachers. But as they don’t pay well, they don’t care and more importantly, the school authorities do not care about what is being taught. As they have now agreed that it’s not their job to educate students, it is the responsibility of private tuition and coaching.

Bring Back Attention To The School Education System

The entire system, along with all the stakeholders, which includes the schools, teachers, students, parents have passed on the responsibility of delivering ‘education’ to coaching institutes. Clearly, they no longer believe that school education is important. It’s the students of our country, whose aspirations, dreams and eagerness to learn is being crushed down by such beliefs.

We need to act and bring back the confidence in our school education system. Schooling is a fundamental way of learning. We have created a powerful ecosystem to deliver education but we are trying to clear another parallel system of private coaching which fails to deliver quality education.

It is time we bring back our attention to the importance of education in school.

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Image source: Jai Pandya/ Flickr
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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