“People call Mumbai ‘Mayanagri’- the city of dreams, I call Parraypora, Srinagar, the place of dreams”, enthusiastic applause followed as he started off the introduction with this dreamy line. Beautiful hoardings and huge lists and banners featuring numerous faces that cracked some entrance exam attracted me like any other student who wanted to become a doctor or an engineer. Thousands of students young in blood, highly enthusiastic, towering confidence and ingenuous receptivity of my batch flocked to different coaching institutes as soon as the class 10th board examination- the most talked about topic of every Kashmiri family, was over. With no criteria set for admission, thousands of students were enrolled in each coaching institute irrespective of considering any intake capacity limit, interest of students or the ability of a student to carry on with science subjects. We started off our journey of 2.5 years or maybe 3 or maybe 4 or maybe a lifetime.
Piles of forms along with bundles of money (in cash) which were to be paid in advance and a huge crowd of students, assurance to our parents that their child will definitely be a doctor as we can see one in him/her and calling an 11th class student ‘Doctor Saeb’ from the first day, it was impossible that everything could go so right. Some innocent parents even answered their relatives that their child was doing ‘Doctor Training’ when asked about them.
Coming from a very well protected and secure environment of our schools and having a mindset that teachers were there to guide and all we needed to do was just study to crack the upcoming competitive exam, was no more than an illusion, or maybe a deception.
A 2-day campaigning programme was done where all sorts of promises (that were meant to be broken) were made.
The no assesment test series
The first illusion to fade was of regular “test series”, instead an extremely minor test, in which 10 students used to sit on a single bench was held, either there was no answer key to make self-assessment or all the answers mentioned in the key were wrong. Protests about the wrong key were silenced by saying that, “These tests force you to study. You are getting prepared, right? Then how do these marks matter?” This tension releasing statement became worse when these extremely poor marks (calculated according to the wrong key) were sent via an SMS to our parents. No parent can ever accept the point that the answer key is incorrect. The only conclusion to be drawn was that their child was not serious about studies.
Never ending syllabus
The promise of syllabus completion was the second one to go. We were taught on the very first day that study pattern was going to change from now onwards as we had stepped into a higher class and were aspiring to crack a much higher level exam. The habit of thoroughly completing a vast chapter within 5-6 days or in a week, which we carried from our school, had upgraded to forcibly wrapping a small one within 3 months. We were directed to shift to some dummy school as schools waste our time and devote each bit of us to our coaching centres. Innocent puppets followed until we realised that for becoming a doctor or an engineer, we first need to pass the board exams. Two years and only four days in school – two for admission and two for collecting certificates was the “mantra of success”. What about the 75% attendance criteria set up by schools? What about the practical exams? Where did the students get the data of experiments from without performing them? What is going on? Where is the Government?
The idea of self study
Immense pressure was laid on the concept of self study but to our surprise, we didn’t actually get any time for that. Initial months went so smooth that even that calf which once got the CET admit card could actually think of passing the entrance exam – just 3-4 half an hour classes per day filled with tickling jokes and personal life tales of teachers. Things worsened when the final one month was left with 80% syllabus yet to be touched. Morning classes, evening classes, daytime classes, night classes, everything was applied. A frosty chilly morning with the post Fajr “Aurad-e-Fateh” in the background, wide empty streets, howling dogs and a lone student approaching towards his success station, spending an average of 13 hours in a tuition per day and expecting to do self study- crazy ?
Inexperienced staff struggle
We were attracted to these institutes just for the sake of some highly experienced, senior and amazing teachers and this was the third thing to hit the rock bottom. Students, who were themselves entangled in some university, struggling to complete their degree, were brought on experimental basis. Sharing the same age group, no student paid a heed to them and eventually the much nervous, confused and somewhat messed up teacher would end up spending more than half of the class scolding and controlling us. The struggle was so real with the inexperienced and young staff that for teaching 3 subjects, we had 25 teachers. Surprising- right?
Birds of the same flock fly together
As the days passed by and the class 10th fever lowered, seriousness stepped in and we started realising that it was not only our enthusiasm but our overseeing attitude that didn’t make us feel that we were a part of a 400-450 student flock caged in a suffocated room. We were unaware that the Government has allowed only 60-70 students a batch, but what about the administration and the people who have to inspect these places? An SMS of electricity failure in class was received when a surprise inspection from officials was expected. Who informed them about the ‘SURPRISE VISIT’? – seems like a ‘Donun taraf ka jugaad’!!
There wasn’t any AC or any heating system in the class that ran on electricity. I guess it was to keep us hidden from the eyes (blindfolded) of the inspection team so that they don’t know what the actual roll is.
A strong pillar of the campaign included the information about doubt clearing sessions. It was a real stress buster for the students as it seemed a bright ray of hope.”Ours is a 3-tier programme”, they said. The First one included the things that were taught in the class and believe me it was the only ‘Tyre’ which didn’t have a puncture.
The second one included the things which get missed out in the class and are available in the form of study material.
The third and the most important is the points which get skipped at both places and shall be encountered in the test series.
The much awaited study material reached the students 2 years after we had left the tuition and the amazing test series scenario has already been mentioned.
Doubts were more prominent than concepts and the ones who had to clear them had already become celebrities who didn’t even show their glimpse after the class was over.
The journey was about to end but we were still into it- confused and chaotic, not knowing what was happening and what was supposed to be.
The irrefutable truth
The ultimate result of our performance in entrance exam was no surprise according to what had happened, but it was a bolt from the blue for millions of dreams, rivers of emotions and thousands of parents who witnessed their children sacrifice their youth for this single cause.
There is a huge difference between a teacher and a tutor, an institution and a hub, and Parraypora has brought out the points of distinction. Thousands of young students, with millions of dreams and endless love and desire are misled after every entrance exam result. There is no area in the whole valley where at least 1 or 2 display boards are not featuring the selected students; but has anyone ever tried to know the reality behind each 100 student list displayed by each coaching centre? With a roll of at least 7000 students per year in one batch, are 100 students enough to make a coaching centre a ‘Miracle Centre’? Statistics suggest that just 10% freshers qualify the competitive exams in our valley. Does the credit of 2 year, 3 year and even a 4 year dropper who has given his blood and sweat for his studies go to these coaching centres? It is not the coaching centre which produces selections but the tireless hard work and endless dedication of students.
A single student is displayed by at least 3 institutes mentioning him as- Classroom student,
DLP student, student who has just walked through their lane.
We people are being deceived and the most unfortunate part is that even after seeing every injustice done to us, we just shut our eyes and let the termites powder our feelings, dreams, hopes and even money.
To add to this misery, the coaching industry has recently added a new source of income and I guess this is for the first time we are seeing such a thing in our valley and that is selling of contact numbers and personal information of students to various career consultancies. I never received an invitation from my institute about any doubt clearance or any extra class, but from the past 1 week, on an average I get at least 4-5 messages and 1-2 phone calls every day about getting admission abroad. This business of “manufacturing units of doctors and engineers” must be kept under check.
The mental trauma and emotional abuse has been going on since years together and every time the victim is an innocent student. From dreaming of getting into AIIMS and IITs and finally ending up with studying History or Literature, the struggle of students like me is real.
This is a public grievance and in this era where student and child welfare is the most emphasised topic, the Government and authorities must check these tuition centres and question them about what they are doing and how they are deceiving students and parents. There should be a regular inspection of tuition centres about their intake capacity, infrastructure, teaching faculty, timing and the standard of teaching (if possible, without any ‘donun taraf ka jugaad’)!