Hats off to the Hon’ble High Court for waking the Government up from the slumber on the private coaching centres
Hats off to the Hon’ble High Court for waking the Government up from their slumber on the private coaching centres. Although, the administration was aware of what was happening in these centres, the officers would turn a blind eye to the lack of facilities in these centres, especially, because their own kith are admitted in these centres (and, very often, free of cost),.
This resulted in the mushroom growth of such centres in the valley; a Srinagar outskirt has became a hub of registered and un-registered centres. Although some eave-teasing and criminal incidents did stir the administration at times, none of these centres faced any action until the Court intervened and directed the civil administration to look into their infrastructure and the facilities they provided to students. The first task before the administration was to find out how many of these centres were registered. As it turned out, although 125 centres had formed their association, there were many that had not registered themselves. Naturally, under directives from the Court, the Government closed down some centres and those that were allowed to work had to comply with the directives of the Court in terms of (a) the number of students admitted in each class, (b) separate coaching timing for boys and girls, (c) loo and drinking water facilities and (d) heating/cooling facilities. Most of the coaching centres failed on this count. It was found that most of centres admitted students beyond their capacity. At the hub of coaching centres, it was found that in some rooms, students were huddled up like cattle. However, the association of these coaching centres demonstrated a good sense and realised that this time it was a pro-active Court that meant business and not any official whose palm they could grease for keeping his/her eyes shut. Before that the association had shown some resistance by closing down the centres for some days, it eventually fell in line and accepted to provide better coaching and comfort to students. The Hon’ble Court will have to monitor the success of its directives regularly, otherwise the state Government will go back into slumber. The Court will have also to ensure that regularising of these centres doesn’t lead to corruption that’ll subvert the noble cause for which the Court intervened.
Kashmir is the most corrupt place. Here, very often, good schemes get flopped because of the corrupt executing agencies. We know that the best efforts of the Hon’ble Court in restoring the lost glory of the Dal Lake got thwarted because of the inefficient LAWDA and the incompetent Government. In the same manner, this new initiative of the Court can become a source of corruption to those civil and police officers within whose jurisdiction these coaching centres fall. The Court might have to, one the one hand, get regular updates on the compliance of its directives, and, on the other hand, it will have to monitor that those police and civil officers who have been assigned the job of inspecting and monitoring these institutes do not turn this noble initiative into a source of corruption. As is usual in Kashmir, the police officers can coerce them to grease their palms so that they submit ‘good’ reports to the Court. Some concerned voices have started coming in in this behalf which can easily subvert the objectives of regulating the functioning of these coaching centres. Unless the Hon’ble Court puts some effective mechanism in place, the State officials will go into regression and hoodwink the Court about the actual happenings in these centres. There could occur nexus between the owners of these centres and the investigating officers in the same way as there was between the BEd colleges and the State Government when mushroom growth of these colleges took place. Once this nexus was broken by the University by making these colleges responsive and responsible, they crumbled and today these colleges are virtually closed.
Some people have started blaming the local government for creating chaos and confusion deliberately so that students from Kashmir go outside for coaching. According to them, coaching centres in Jammu are also admitting huge numbers of students and these centres are also lacking in the facilities that the Kashmir centres are accused of. However, it is alleged that the Jammu centres are facing no such reprisals from the authorities. The conspiracy theory cannot be rubbished also because, in case of BEd colleges, the State Government did follow a discriminatory approach in Kashmir. Also, Kashmir cable operations continue to be discriminated against whereas Jammu operators enjoy official patronage.
Although it can’t be denied that, for some, coaching centres have become commercially very profitable, especially those who own them and also teach there, there are some that run on percentage basis, say 70% of the lecture fee goes to the tutor and 30% to the owner(s) who has/have to meet the day to day expenses and also manage the centres. An outskirt coaching area in Srinagar has become a big boon for locals who have turned their houses into guest houses and/or hostels that feed on students from coaching centres there. It is a fact also that some centres are housed in good buildings and have relatively better facilities. It is therefore important that admission to all the centres is regulated through a committee that allows each centre to admit students based on its physical condition. None of them should be allowed to admit students beyond their capacity. Providing different timings to girls and boys is a must as it will keep many a criminal activities at bay. The conspiracy theory needs to be looked into so that students are not forced to seek admission outside the valley where they pay heavily. We can’t close coaching centres because they are a good alternative to the deteriorated formal education system in the State.