(from book “Samay Samaj aur Sanskriti”- Publisher, Medha Books)
My neighbour’s son got first division in his Board exams. But neither he nor his parents were happy. He had scored 88% marks while he had expected above 90%. He was more upset with the behavior of his teachers. His Science and Maths teachers behaved rather rudely with him. The reason ? He had not taken private tuitions from them. In fact, they had even threatened him that he would be thrown out of school if he did not got to them for private tuitions. The boy was not apprehensive of taking admission to class XI in the same school. What can be a worse example of the commercialization of education?
I was reminded of my own schools days. Thirty years back, I had neither stood first in my class nor had scored 88% in my Board exams. But the amount of encouragement I used to get from my teachers was heart-warming. After the Board results were declared, the students securing first division were felicitated by the Principal in the morning assembly. All the others were given proper guidance regarding future studies on the basis of our individual strengths and weaknesses. Our teachers were like close relatives who know each of us so well; quite a contrast for the Science and Maths teachers of my neighbour’s son who was threatened with expulsion from school for not going to them for private tuitions, fearing that other students may also follow suit and spoil their business !
The rush for private tuitions has acquired a national scale. After the Xth exams, there is a rush for admission both for XIth and for private tuition intuitions. The parents have come to accept that studies at schools in the higher levels are not adequate and that specialized coaching in tuition institutions is a must. Interestingly, it is the schools teachers who put in all their labour in these coaching institutions and neglect their classes at school. Thus, tuitions have become compulsory for securing better marks at school.
There are some universities which enroll students far in excess of their available infrastructure. And how do they accommodate the excess students? By running coaching institutions with the patronage of these universities. In fact, some of the coaching institutions have become so renowned that getting an admission there is more difficult than getting admission to a good college. Long queues of students and parents can often be seen in front of these institutions at the time of admissions. Some of these even hold selection tests before admissions ! these selection tests are sometimes held with two or three elimination rounds. The reason? Better the students, better the results and better the rust of students in subsequent years. All these add up to the most important thing- more and more money. Some of them even catch hold of Board toppers and pay them money to advertise in the newspapers, claiming that they had taken coaching from these institutions. In fact many towns have become famous as the most effective places for staying and undertaking private coaching.
Just think of the unfortunate students. They neither have the time to play nor for any social activity. They can be seen rushing to coaching classes/private tuitions early in the morning before attending classes in schools and colleges. The scene repeats itself after classes in schools/ colleges are over. Teachers get exhausted with their enthusiasm in the coaching classes/private tuitions and they have little interest in their school/ college classes. If you question their integrity, they shoot back at you by saying, “ At least we are putting in extra labour for the extra money. Securing employees also take bribes for doing the work they are supposed to do and for which they get their salaries.”
Liberalization has also had an adverse effect on our education system. We have seen a proliferation of foreign universities opening their centres in various cities. In the name of offering degrees from foreign universities, they hold screening and counseling sessions at posh hotels. Although most of these foreign universities are hardly heard about, our obsession with anything foreign makes us spend huge sums of money for seeking admission to these colleges/universities. This is an extension of the tuition/coaching culture that has made education a commodity – an increasingly expensive commodity.
On one hand we have failed to ensure a slate and chalk at the grass roots level while on the other hand we are running after foreign degrees. I sit back and watch helplessly at the ever deteriorating education system. I also wonder as to what will become of my neighbour’s son who has dared not to go for private tuitions.
(Translation from Hindi by Sh. A.K.Sen )