In this passionately argued article Kavita Kulkarni—a schoolteacher situated in Pune—has expressed her anguish—the voice of dissent against the huge racket in the name of coaching centers.
Kavita Kulkarni is a School Teacher – based in Pune.
“Do you have it in you to be a great engineer or doctor? Come and find out!” As I see this huge ad in the front page of a leading newspaper, I feel sad. Possibly, the idealism in the vocation of teaching is still with me; and I continue to believe that coaching centres with their business like pragmatic attitude destroy the spirit of meaningful education and engaged learning. However, the fact is that like black economy, we have evolved a system of black education. Coaching centres, guidebooks, success mantras and knowledge capsules for instant consumption characterize the scenario. This is the new normal. But then, it has disastrous consequences.
Before I speak of these consequences, I wish to raise a pertinent question. Why is it that we fail to evolve a pattern of entrance test for all these competitive examinations, which can make these coaching centres irrelevant? Think of it. We are proud of our IITs, and we can safely assume that great minds in the field of science and engineering are teaching in these centres of excellence. Is it altogether impossible for them to create a new pattern of evaluation that demands creative thinking and deep insights? This is the puzzle—the root of educational corruption. Today we demand a mind that is recklessly ‘efficient’, ‘technical’ and capable of solving 120 mathematical puzzles in two hours. It has got nothing to do with ‘scientific temper’ or research potential in applied technological innovation. It demands a highly mechanized form of learning, drilling, time management and aggression. I believe that coaching centres are essentially training the youngsters in these ‘skills’. Don’t have any illusion. The politics of entrance tests and the business of coaching centres have nothing to do with creative thinking and meaningful education. Yes, engineers are produced; they see themselves as the ‘resources’ needed for the market. The market triumphs, corporate interests prevail and education suffers.
Now think of the discontents of this notorious phenomenon. First, it has destroyed the everyday functioning of school education. As the aspiring parents see their children as ‘investment’, they are easily lured by the promises of the coaching centres. They spend a huge amount of money, and they pressurize their children to do everything that these coaching centres demand—weekly tests, mock interviews, special classes. No wonder, school activities become secondary; schools are seen only as certifying agencies for the minimal qualification needed to sit for these competitive examinations. Even in my own school, I see empty classrooms, particularly in the science stream. Nobody is minding it. The students and their parents think that they are doing the most practical thing. And school management feels that if a couple of students get through and enter the IIts, it would add prestige to the school. The game goes on. As a teacher, I see myself as a stranger.
Second, this sort of training or drilling is killing the creative life energy of young minds. The innocence that has a sense of wonder, the eyes that observe with absolute alertness, the heart that feels, the hands that work, the brain that cognizes and analyzes —every faculty of learning is destroyed. What remains is merely the aggression of an ‘efficient’ conqueror. Books for celebration, relaxed and joyful learning—all these become lost ideals to be seen as mere wastage of time. We are creating an utterly non imaginative/cynical/tired generation. When do we realize it?
Third, ask yet another question. What sort of doctors and engineers are we producing through these practices? Suppose my parents spend a sum of three lakh rupees for these coaching centres. And then, I get admission in a private medical college, and my parents spend again ten lakh rupees for my medical education. From where do I get this money back? Through malpractices in a private hospital? Through an inflated dowry amount? Believe it, we are reproducing and intensifying corruption through these practices. We are really caught into this vicious circle.
I raise a voice of dissent against this unholy practice. I know that I am alone in this struggle. In a society in which moral foundations have collapsed, education has become merely utilitarian, and market rationality invades every sphere of life, coaching centres with their notes and suggestions will replace the experiences of Einstein and Tagore; and every lane of the country will have an engineering college, and our political leaders will regard it as DEVELOPMENT. However, a teacher like me will continue to say ‘no’ to this huge racket. Can you join me, friends?
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