Where should the students go - school or coaching centre?

Samarjit Kambam *

Students appearing for Class XII Exam (Higher Secondary Examination) at Imphal area :: 22 February 2016
Students appearing for Class XII Exam at Imphal area on 22 February 2016 :: Pix - Shanker Khangembam

Education is a comprehensive process of acquiring knowledge. The system of education differs from one country to another, one state to another. Our state ranks high in literacy rate but glaringly low in quality, value-based and need-based education. Well, going through to the education system of Manipur, something is terribly wrong, something is amiss. Like a ghost in the machine, education system in our state of Manipur has a missing link.

When I was a kid, the elders used to narrate to us that the Japanese throw away their certificates be it vocational, technical or professional courses as the knowledge and expertise acquired by them were taken as paramount importance. The certificates are just mere sheets of paper to them. It may be right, may be wrong, still it has a very strong, convincing and valid point.

Every year, many schools and colleges in our state churn out umpteen matriculates, plus two passed and degree holders. But will the quality of education be justified by numbers only? Is the quality of education directly proportional to number of students churned out with pass certificates? Have the students acquired value based education? Issues that should not get limited to beating around the bush but needs thorough introspection.

Lets head back to school - there are questions galore whether the students are going to school or some blocks of buildings. There are innumerable private schools cropping up like 'pops' of corns on a frying pan.

The big question is - are they really schools or just money churning entities? In fact, setting up private schools has become one of the most lucrative businesses legitimately. Decades back, going for private tuitions was almost non-existent, a practice not practiced as is being practiced now.

Presently, the mushrooming up of private coaching centres has become a game changer, a more lucrative business. Attending coaching centres as preparation for various entrance tests such as MBBS, Engineering, IIT, JEE etc is a different issue. However, going to coaching centres beginning from class VI is a totally unpalatable practice.

The students, nowadays go to such centres for their HSLC Exam as well as for HSSLC examinations. The school goers as well as their parents have been inculcated with the wrong notion that non-admission to a private coaching centre is tantamount to having no education at all. Now, the number of private coaching centres seem to outnumber the real schools, or if not, its surely bound to happen within a few years.

In fact, its impending. As for government primary and high schools, the status quo is so pathetic, my dear readers must be knowing the exact scenario. In some schools, the number of teachers exceed the number of students. In some schools, particularly in hill districts, teachers are non-existent. Course, the govt of India has been coming with many new ventures to attract kids to government schools, but so far, such efforts turn out to be a pyrrhic victory.

Leaf through a local daily and the ads of names of private coaching centres fill half the portion of most pages, some upto the extent of full pages. They are thriving and reaping huge monetary benefits by taking the parents of the students for a ride by charging exhorbitant fees at their whims and fancy as there is no regulatory authority regarding amount on fees and admission in such private coaching centres.

They are squeezing the parents' hard earned money, extracting monetary benefits in whatever way possible leaving the parents shrunk and dry. The parents are at the crossroads and their wards in a lane of confusion and uncertainty.

The education system of Manipur is evolving rapidly but towards the wrong bearing, more of a mutated education system. With going to private coaching centres getting mandatory from high school level, the students are going to schools just for granted. As the salary of teachers in private school is too meager, school teachers are earning more through private tuitions and private coaching centres.

Many teachers frequent to and fro coaching centres and schools with money as prime objective keeping the fate of the students at the back-burner. As almost all students of almost all schools go to either private tuitions or coaching centres, the teachers are also not so enthused in teaching the students at school, taking them just for granted as well as head-counting them as mere monetary figures.

This ugly trend is leading to a two-pronged education system where the students are going to schools just for name-sake, for their minds are getting hovered or are mulling at the thought that there's always a private tuition or coaching centre as their saviour even if they don't know anything of what's being taught in school. In fact, the students are going to schools as a gateway or ticket for entry to private coaching centres.

The question is, "What are schools for?". In this two-pronged education system, the schools are finding it hard to catch up with private coaching centres as they are getting more well-equipped be it infrastructure, better teaching methods, better training and teaching aids such as smart classrooms, better audio visual aids as well as providing a conducive, healthy and competition oriented atmosphere.

Here, I would like to bring a twisted version of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" where it will be more appropriate for the school goers to sing "We don't need no education in schools, We need education at private coaching centres". Sorry, Roger Waters, I mean no offence. Am just bringing out to the lime-light how sorry our education system is.

At this juncture, I would like to put forth that a very, I repeat, VERY strong parents' association of all school going kids need to rise from the debris of our self-made broken and fallen education system. The parents need cooperation in this regard. The intellectuals also need to express their opinions through newspapers, electronic mass media and virtual social portals.

Open deliberations, meetings and debates on the issue will act as an eye-opener to the parents rather than simply sailing along with the unwanted tide of the wrong education system of our state.

A wind of change on this issue is the need of the hour.

* Samarjit Kambam wrote this review for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at kambamsamarjit0(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on May 29, 2016.

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