India is a developing country and it has seen large scale changes in its economy over the last couple of decades. Foreign companies have opened offices here providing good salaries and job security to many. However, the paths to obtaining these jobs are not easy. Students need to graduate with flying colours from reputed institutes, and for this, they face a highly competitive environment. However, the quality of education has been under tremendous stress due to the lack of highly skilled teachers and good infrastructure. Students are expected to beat all odds and ace various entrance exams. There is a glaring gap between what they are trained for and what they are expected to achieve.
Over the last decade or so, coaching classes have been aggressively struggling to fill this gap. These classes put up advertisements claiming to be the reasons for the success of their students, but we need to take a step back and find out if these classes were as instrumental as they claim to be.
As an increasingly large number of students look at coaching classes as the only way to succeed in their academics, let’s explore the world of coaching classes and find out if they are an absolute necessity, or just a trend. For this, let’s start by weighing the pros and cons of attending a coaching class.
Pros of attending a coaching class
Coaching classes provide students with daily mock tests and subject wise question papers and practice material. This helps students practice their understanding and application of various concepts. However, practice questions are the same for everyone and do not address personal needs.
Students have a few common reasons for attending coaching classes. The most common one being a sense of security. Students feel by attending these classes, they choose a better set of teachers from their schools since they charge a premium fee. Students feel they have better teaching methodologies and that they will receive individual attention by joining these classes. Moreover, sometimes students also have a follow the herd mentality, and join these classes just because everyone else is.
What they don’t realise is that this setting is just a failed replica of a school, with a more aggressive environment. Coaching classes fail to overcome the shortcomings of a traditional school. Following are the cons:
Cons of attending a coaching class
Lack of personalization of learning
Most Indian schools have a large student teacher ratio. This remains unchanged at most coaching classes. To meet a never-ending demand, many coaching classes have batch sizes of 100-150 students. Due to this, professors adopt a one-size-fits-all approach, teaching at the speed of an average learner. Some students grasp concepts quickly and lose interest due to the slow pace while others struggle to understand basic concepts. It is clear that the learning environment of a coaching class is similar to that of a school. What ends up happening, is that there is a repetition of what was taught in school. This does not help students since they don’t need a replay of their lectures. They need help, guidance, and knowledge at a personal, one-on-one level.
Let’s face it - juggling between long school hours, and the added coaching class hours is not for the faint hearted. Reports suggest that Indian students put in more number of hours at school itself than their western counterparts. After spending all this time being tutored, students also have the added pressure of finishing assignments and preparing for upcoming tests.
We need to understand that due to the competition here, students do need help outside school. However, it would be much more convenient to them if they could choose what time they want to study instead of adjusting their body clocks to coaching class hours. Due to juggling between school and classes, students cannot always keep up. They end up feeling pressured and anxious. Moreover, many grapple with adjusting their preferred learning hours with those of schools and coaching classes.
Monetary burden to parents
Coaching classes for highly competitive exams like JEE, NEET, CPT, and CLAT are often expensive. Thiscoupled with expensive reference books and daily travel costs end up being a huge monetary burden to parents. They are forced to take loans and even mortgage their houses in an effort to provide best education to their children.
Non-availability to address student doubts and queries
Due to large batch sizes, and limited coaching hours, teachers are not always available to solve student doubts. This is an issue in most schools and remains unaddressed in most coaching institutes. Students rely on their peers and reference books for help.
The best coaching classes are present in metros and a handful of towns like Kota. Students in tier II and III cities pay an exorbitant price for average quality in education. Others, travel to these cities, spending time away from family at a very young age in the hopes of better education. Moreover, the cost of relocating is not always affordable for many families.
To Sum Up
It is clear that students do need help outside a school classroom. They need everything listed in the pros section above. The guidance and the practice is what eventually help them crack a competitive exam. However, they do not require the additional stress and monetary burden that comes along with mediocre, mass level teaching. They need something that is personalized and tailored to suit their needs. Something that lets them decide how fast or slow do they want to learn. A solution that helps them study at a time and place of their choice - be it the comfort of their homes or in a peaceful library. They need learning material, mock tests, and guidance that do not remain confined to metro cities, but is available in any town or village. Students need help that does not burn a hole inside their parents pockets, and is available to solve their doubts 24*7 - and all of this, is possible with ed-tech.
About the Expert:
Manish Kumar graduated from IIT Bombay in 2006 with a degree in Metallurgical and Materials Science. He then pursued masters in Materials Science Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, USA. Post his graduation, he joined Indian School Finance Company, where he was part of the core team responsible for business strategies and growth. In 2013, he co-founded SEED Schools, a venture focused on improving quality of low-cost K-12 education in India with a vision to make quality education accessible. He is currently Vice President of Product - Learning & Pedagogy at Toppr.com.