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Coaching Classes, should be allowed only in school premises?


Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) earlier asked through a circular to all its affiliated schools to ban running of coaching classes by coaching centers inside the school premises. Various schools continue to run the integrated school programme of preparing students of IITs/JEEs as well as board exams. Some students and their guardian found the practice a help as it saves their time in finding an alternative coaching center, others found the move by the board progressive as students not enrolled with the coaching centre face inequality in receiving learning.

However, in some schools, students enrolled under this programme are assigned to separate sections in a school and are taught by teachers from coaching institutes. The students are taking sessions of subjects like physics, chemistry and mathematics from 8 am to 12 pm for the CBSE as well as competitive examinations, while subjects like English and physical education are taught by members of the school faculty.

But according to CBSE circular, a school cannot allow a private coaching institute to hold classes. If schools continue to do so they are clearly floating rules. Challenges of running coaching classes in school premises:

A school and a teacher must have the right to decide what works best for the students. They have taken responsibility for as long as well as they have to adhere the standards set for them so that they can flourish with best knowledge. This type of management of classroom time table makes the teacher community less responsible and they merely read out the textbook and do no more − indeed, they could claim that they have permission to do no more than that. It is also extremely insulting to a highly trained and experienced cadre to distrust their commitment and engagement with their students.

The latest circular does exactly this by disallowing additional teaching during school time. It effectively bars schools from enhancing standards that have been prescribed at the lowest common denominator across the country. Schools that seek to add value are not allowed to do so. They must teach only to the prescribed level, the rest is effectively prescribed.

In a perfect world I would whole heartedly support having a system that requires no preparation for examinations. I would even, in principle, support a ban on all exam preparation. Students either know their stuff or they don't − and any test is a stepping stone to identifying gaps for further work, or for choice in moving towards an area of aptitude or away from one there is clearly no talent. Schools are supposed to prepare students for life, and tests in life rarely come with a timetable.

Controversy between acceptance & rejection of coaching classes in school premise:

There will always be arguments on both sides.

Does coaching give an advantage to students who can afford it?

Yes, of course. Is it a fair advantage? I could argue either side. At the end of the day people should be able to spend their money as they choose. There is no getting away from that.

2. Does this circular do away with that advantage?

No, it does not touch it. It merely says, reduce efficiencies. The rich who can allocate a car and driver (or adult) to their children will have less tired children who can work while travelling. The middle class and poor who strain to pay fees will have to depend on public transport (as many of us did) and spend more time at bus stops and stations, tired and hungry and stressed about all the work they need to catch up on after they reach home in the late evening having done a second shift at the coaching class.

There is a chance that the schools are not as 'commercial' as they fear. There is a chance that they do allow cross subsidization and a scholarship student joins the class with the others. But this is not a model that is explored or discussed.

The real issue here is of standards and quality. A system that truly looks to support growth of its students will try to support more of its students to access better learning rather than cutting back on learning opportunities. Today is a competitive environment. These competitions are intense. This is why they take four to six years of preparation to be able to get ahead of millions of others in a situation where there are few hundred or a few thousand credible positions to fill. The government is building more capacity − more IITs and medical schools. This is going to take a few years.

Deepika Phutela