Historically, India’s education system saw the practice of tuition in late middle ages and had undergone a series of transformation until now. In the present time, the old practice of tuition through individuals has evolved in the form of well-organised coaching centres and are available for almost every examination.
Present time coaching has become like a formal educational institution having a focus on limited aspects. These coaching can be classified into three types based on their targets:
- The competitive examinations leading to admissions in certain courses
- The regular examinations of different classes in every segment of education system starting from primary, secondary and tertiary education system
- Coaching for the competitive examinations leading to employment
Introspection of the aims of these types of coaching indicates that barring the coaching with the objective of helping the aspirants in seeking employment, the remaining two types of coaching focus upon re-teaching of the syllabus for different courses at every level of formal education system. It is an obvious pointer towards the prevalent deficiencies in the quality of deliveries from the respective education provider. In general, analysis of the very basic purpose of students going to the coaching shows that they hesitantly resort to it as a remedy due to the insufficient learning in their schools/colleges. To understand it better, let us take the cases of the secondary education system and professional tertiary education system.
Capitalising on the Weak School Education System
After attending classes in schools, the students of secondary education system feel that school teaching is not up to the mark and they need additional mentoring for attaining the requisite learning level for passing the board examinations or for succeeding in competitive entrance examination which also has nearly the same syllabus.
This weakness of the school education system is capitalised by those capable of teaching at the respective level, and the formal system of tuition or coaching keeps flourishing. Undoubtedly, the secondary education providers do know about the weaknesses of their teaching-learning systems, but the absence of any improvement in learning levels from schools shows lack of commitment of respective teachers and whole education system.
The competitive examinations leading to admission to higher education courses do expect reasonable understanding of the subjects in the aspirants, failing which the quality of delivery from the higher education system is bound to degrade. Therefore, the students in formal schooling are left with the options of either self-study which has limitations or get coached to come up to the mark.
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Dummy schools for students
There are a large number of examples of coaching being relied to such an extent that students take admission in dummy schools which are only for processing the examination of its registered and all subjects are taught in coaching itself, so need to go to school. Recent news of converting 2,600 test practicing centers of the National Testing Agency (NTA), a testing organisation to conduct entrance examinations for admission in higher educational institutions, into teaching centers where students will get free coaching from May 2019 is going to relax schools regarding teaching rigor. This may offer some respite to those who cannot afford coaching, but it concludes that even the regulators have assumed that it is not possible to succeed based on mere school classes. It is likely to retard the ongoing efforts for bringing qualitative improvement in the secondary school education due to the complacency of teachers, as the teaching need of students is being met through the alternative route of coaching.
The New Trend in Coaching
In continuation to the secondary education system, the upcoming trend of the coaching need of majority of graduating students of professional courses such as technical education, medical education, etc. for succeeding in the examinations based on their professional courses like PG admission test such as GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering) are serious cause of concern.
Till some time ago it was perceived that the professional education institutions carry out teaching-learning processes with ample rigor and the gaps if any can be made up by the self-study of the learners. But, the inadequate learning experience of the students in the professional courses has been compelling them for seeking additional inputs through specialised coaching either during or after the course completion.
The current practice of professional students joining coaching for getting success in the examinations based on the syllabus of the course studied by them makes it inevitable to examine the quality of teaching in classrooms and the level of attainment of expected outcomes from the respective formal education. It should be the responsibility of the institution offering the respective course to audit the whole exercise of teaching and evaluation from the perspective of the desired learning outcome of learners.
Alarming Situation in Formal Education
Any initiative of supplementing the weaknesses by offering organised coaching whether at the institution level or the level of students individually is a caution for the diminishing relevance of the formal contact type education in the portals of the institution. The students studying in distance mode of education need assistance and the coaching establishments may do the same for them, but the same becoming the indispensable requirement of the students in formal education is ringing the alarm.
The Universal Truth in Teaching Quality
It is a universal truth that every need will lead to the emergence of all possible creative solutions to resolve the problem and coaching for PG admission tests exhibits the same. The insufficient teaching quality in regular classes seems to be the prime driver for students marching towards the coaching institutions. The comparison of the teaching-learning human resource and infrastructure with the formal education provider and the coaching establishment are not comparable, but the rigor of teaching and commitment of coaching from the perspective of ensuring success in the course-based examination offers value addition to the students.
Essentially, the formal education providers should come forward with the resolve for eliminating the need of any coaching for their students in taking up the examinations based on their regular courses. The increasing dependence of students on coaching will eventually result in their declining interest and participation in the regular classroom teaching in the institution, and these will be reduced to mere certificate/degree-granting establishments. Fact remains that most of the concerned people are aware of the precarious situation, but the honest and committed efforts of teachers and educational governance are required to change the situation and improve the formal education system for getting desired learning outcomes from it. So that the students do not require coaching for the examinations based on the syllabus of their regular courses in the formal education and assessments from such examinations are of actual learning.
(Dr Onkar Singh is founder Vice Chancellor of Madan Mohan Malaviya University of Technology, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. Currently, he is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Harcourt Butler Technical University, Kanpur, UP. firstname.lastname@example.org)