A few decades back, coaching or tuition was a rare phenomenon. Going to tuition classes was considered a shame and students used to go for it very secretly so that no one comes to know that they are weak and likely to fail in the examinations and hence taking extra tuitions. During 1980's a few Kashmiri pandit teachers in Srinagar were famous for taking tuitions that too in small groups but in rural areas their might have been somewhere a few teachers doing tuitions.
Now, over a period of time, a complete transformation has taken place. The private tuitions on one hand have become an unregulated business industry and on the other hand a necessary evil for our students without which they feel insecure. Right from LKG up to the 12th class, it is being aggressively patronized, first by the parents and then by our teachers. In many cases it has become a fashion and a style, to have as many tuition teachers as one could afford, especially for house ladies to show off to their neighbors. Our coaching and tuition centers have become the center of attraction for student gatherings where they share personal pleasantries and make fun and joy.
Today our parents are very badly involved with bringing up their children. They sacrifice all their pleasures. The entire family goes into war-mode in the preparation for his son/daughter early in the morning. They all wake up well before dawn; the father drops him/her at the tuition centre and comes back to offer prayers, the mother cajoles him/her into eating something to nourish brains. The activities like games, sports, recreation, TV etc have become a taboo at home. The recent assault of rape and brutal attacks on girls have caused shockwaves and further added to their misery. The mothers are now counting the nervous moments for the safe arrival of their daughters from coaching centers.
While the entrance exams baldly hid the science academics in our colleges, the common tuitions have made our schools irrelevant. During winter vacations the parents engage their wards in private tuitions for 11th, 12th class's etc which draws up to the month of August and it involves almost the whole school session. The students who aspire for learning through regular class work are badly hurt when they find lack of enthusiasm among other students who skip classes or sleep through lessons with the teachers on the receiving end. This disturbs the whole academic atmosphere. Probably this phenomenon forces the students to distain schools.
While I agree that for medical, engineering and IIT entrance examinations, professional guidance like the study material, minute details, short-cut methods of solving numerical etc are required by our students to give them the right boost in right directions. But the same is not available in our private intuitions. As every Tom, Dick and Harry have entered into this business to make money because there are no entry barriers while proficient people are watching on the shores. This is further substantiated by the fact that large number of our students go to Kota (Rajasthan) and elsewhere for the purpose.
The student/teacher ratio is viewed as an indicator of the quality of education and academic success of students and is thus an important figure to consider. The lower the ratio better is the probability of improving the quality and accomplishing the desired goals. Not to speak of 200 students in a class, even with 50 students, the teachers can pay neither collective nor individual attention. They cannot afford to give extra time to the struggling students nor can they be patient enough to allow students to take their time. In such an atmosphere the students cannot ask any questions. So what is the fun of such tuition centers where our wards become a sheep in the flock of sheep?
Private tuitions prevent students to take some initiative at their own level. It makes them over-dependent on the teacher and notes and they lose the habit of doing hard work. After the loss of full day in traveling from one tuition center to another, he/she feels saturated and tired and finds no time for making self-study at his/her home. Besides, one has to keep pace with both the school and the tuitions simultaneously. The students then resort to rote learning, cramming and scoring of marks, which ultimately robs them off their inherent creativity and deprives them of opportunities to discover and figure out things for themselves, which generally limits their thinking ability and adds a new dimension to their inefficiency on long-term basis.
On the other hand, self study makes a student wise and clever. A student can go at his own pace while making a qualitative study of his subjects. He can save his time money and energy. Today no knowledge is hidden. He has more advanced books as well as internet and other technologies available. So self study can do wonders for him. I am reminded of what Richard Feynman (1918-1988), an American physicist, one of the all-time great teachers said: The teachers are superfluous – good students learn by themselves, and others cannot be helped! Teacher is merely there, only to show the way.
A teacher is supposed to remain pouring on books and at no time he/she must proclaim to have an authority on the subject, then probably he is living in a fool's paradise. The more one reads the books, the more knew knowledge one finds. Only recently I was talking to one Physics professor to go for one complete revision of whole Physics, only to discover thousands of miss-concepts and half backed ideas on different topics which we never take care of. Probably these winters are ideal time for teachers to hone the knowledge of their subjects.
The education is a natural process of learning. The real education fosters and reinforces knowledge and intellectual growth, develops a scientific temper, the spirit of inquiry and moral values during the crucial years of the student's life. If our students spend years focusing only on the methodology of cracking the competitive exams, what about knowledge and intellectual growth they are supposed to imbibe in these crucial years. We have not to train students to secure good marks rather than to imbibe meaningful knowledge and education that is holistic in real terms.
It is time to slow down and simplify our life. The Government is spending huge money on education in the form of infrastructure and salaries to its huge number of teachers. We should help it that schools become the places of learning and understanding. I hope that the steps taken by the administration for the matter will prove a success. In the end I will close my chapter with a saying from George Bernard Shaw (1856 –1950) "Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."