Who will regulate fee structure in private coaching centres?

The government needs to shift its focus from registration to regulation of fees in private coaching centres
Who will regulate fee structure in private coaching centres?
There are around 630 private coaching centres in J&K providing private coaching for various national level competitive exams besides the coaching for classes 9th to 12th.Special arrangement

Over the years, there has been a never ending debate on regulation of fees in private educational institutions while on the other hand the regulation of fee structure in private coaching institutes has gone out of sight.

The schools always remain in news for giving a hike or fixing any particular fee structure for the students but at the same time the unregulated business of private coaching centres has gone unnoticed till now.

There are around 630 private coaching centres in J&K providing private coaching for various national level competitive exams besides the coaching for classes 9th to 12th.

Besides the students who opt for private coaching for their high and higher secondary classes, around 15000 students opt for private coaching for competing in NEET, JEE and other national level exams. Excluding the fee charged for the class 9th to 12th coaching, each student is paid a minimum of Rs 50000 for the three months crash course offered by different coaching centres established in Valley. The amount goes beyond Rs 70000 to one lakh as well.

The crux is that the fee charged by these private coaching centres is fixed by the proprietors as per their sweet will. There is no regulation or check from any competent authority on the fee structure fixed by these coaching centres.

This is how the successive regimes have given a free hand to these coaching centres to make a huge business under the garb of providing coaching to the students.

Approximately around 15000 students aspiring to become doctors and engineers join these coaching centres either in class 11th or after qualifying their class 12th examination. Out of the total around 1200 to 1300 qualify the exam while the rest of the students opt for graduation or test their fortunes by making a second and third attempt for NEET and JEE exams. Approximately the coaching centres are doing a business of around Rs 200 crore per year.

If we go by the success story of every coaching centre, not more than five to six students out of hundreds of the enrolled students at coaching centres qualify the NEET and JEE exams. But after the declaration of the result, the coaching centres only own those who are declared qualified by exam conducting bodies. Rest nobody bothers to care for those who make an unsuccessful attempt.

From banners to hoardings and from social media campaigning to newspapers and radio advertisements, the coaching centres only highlight the story of successful students which is negligible in number. This is only done to lure other students to opt for the private coaching to generate huge revenue.

Now coming to the point, the school education department which has a mandate to regulate the functioning of these coaching centres has kept itself confined to check the space provided to the students in square feet and to ensure drinking water and toilet facility is available at the institute.

The department has failed to regulate the fee structure of these coaching centres which is always taken in advance in one installment or to the most in two installments. The students are not given an option to leave the coaching in the middle or he is not given any refund if he wishes to discontinue the classes for obvious reasons.

If we talk about the current academic session, the private coaching centres installed their hoardings and banners inviting admissions for coaching for different competitive exams. These hoardings carry the photographs of the students who qualified the previous NEET and JEE exams but the hoardings do not have a mention of how many could not qualify it.

The admissions are invited at a time when the registration of these institutes has already expired. The previous registration of the coaching centres expired in May this year and the education department is yet to issue a fresh list of the registered coaching centres. But the coaching institutes are enrolling students for private coaching without getting fresh registration from the competent authorities. Nobody knows the fate of the students in case the department denied registration to any of these coaching centres.

Secondly, the J&K government has issued clear directions that the coaching centres will be allowed to hold physical classes for JEE, NEET and other civil services coaching classes while the coaching centres offering coaching for class 9th to 12th will continue to remain closed in view of the covid-19 pandemic.

But the coaching centres are still inviting admissions for class 9th to 12th in violation of the government orders. The cause of worry is that the students will be charged the fees in advance and later will be closed by the government as per its orders. This will only result in wastage of hard earned money of the parents of these students. Nobody from the government takes cognizance of this issue. It is the prime responsibility of the government to issue strict instructions to these coaching centres which are inviting admission for classes 9th to 12th to not to enroll the students for physical classes till a decision is taken by the government in this regard because the admission of the students kids involves investments of money in lakhs.

Another burning issue is that all these private coaching institutes are out of bonds for the specially-abled students as there is no provision for such students to attend classes at majority of these institutes. This issue has remained out of focus of the government as well.

Now coming to the point, the government should shift its focus from mere registration to regulation of fee structure of these coaching centres which has remained unregulated over these years. A proper system should be set in place which will be in the interest of the students and parents but will also address the concerns of the coaching centres as well. The fact is the coaching centres are also contributing towards the education sector but the system should run systematically for the benefit of the students and stakeholders as well.

Greater Kashmir