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Will Guidelines Impact Coaching Classes?

January 29, 2024 11:40 IST

'Parents, students and coaching institutes will find alternatives to cater to the demand.'

IMAGE: Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes. Photograph: ANI Photo

Days after the education ministry issued guidelines prohibiting coaching centres from enrolling students under 16 years of age, institutes assessed the potential hit to business.

At Kota in Rajasthan, where more than 200,000 students pour in every year to enroll for coaching classes, a record number of suicides last year drew media attention and prompted the administration and institutes to address mental health of aspirants.

An official at one of the city's oldest coaching centres pointed out that the institute does not admit students who are still in high school.

"We take students from Classes 11 and 12, and they are not under 16 years of age," said the official, who declined to be named as he was not authorised to talk to the media.

Several institutes, however, offer integrated courses that are designed for school children to ace Olympiads and talent search exams that serve as a prelude to the high-pressure IIT-JEE (Indian Institute of Technology-Joint Entrance Examination) or the pre-medical National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).

A spokesperson of Kota's Allen Career Institute, said, "We welcome these guidelines and look forward to working with the government in shaping them for the benefit and well-being of students."

An official at a Delhi-based coaching institute for engineering aspirants said the question of not enrolling students under 16 was a sensitive matter and too early to be commented upon.

"The institute is having discussions on the new guidelines. But the truth is that even parents want coaching classes for their children as they view school education as basic," he said.

Mayank Kumar, co-founder and managing director of edtech unicorn upGrad, welcomed the new guidelines in the context of concerns around mental health.

"We expect the guidelines to have an impact on the coaching market ecosystem for students across grades 9 and 10. But we need to realise that the demand for such coaching is very high.

"Parents, students and coaching institutes will find alternatives to cater to the demand," he said, adding, "New innovative models, including online alternative or school integration for under-16 learners, are expected in the light of these guidelines."

Maheshwer Peri, founder of online career counselling and education services firm Careers360, said the guidelines were much desired.

"Schools teach you a lot more than just cracking an examination."

"Parents put children in coaching classes early, believing they will have an edge. This is not necessarily proven by data. A majority of students, who apply to IITs, are largely ones who take coaching classes in 11 and 12," Peri said.

According to him, 25 to 35 per cent of the business of coaching institutes is via foundation courses for Classes 5 to 10. That component of their business will be hit, he said.

But, as coaching institutes also pointed out, since education as a subject is part of the concurrent list, states would need to pass laws in accordance with the central guidelines to enforce the diktat in schools affiliated to state boards.

The ministry's guidelines, which include a bar on misleading promises of guaranteed marks and ranks, came in the backdrop of a rise in student suicides.

Between 2018 and 2022, 59,153 students died by suicide, a 28 per cent increase in five years.

In 2022, 13,000 students died by suicide, according to the National Crime Records Bureau's 'Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India'.

According to a National Sample Survey Office report, one in every four students in India takes private coaching.

The highest proportion was in Tripura, followed by West Bengal, Bihar and Chandigarh followed.

On average, each student incurs Rs 2,128 in private coaching for any course for one academic session.

Higher secondary students in private-aided institutions incur Rs 3,532 on average, while those in government institutions spend Rs 2,335 on private coaching.

Currently, 1,258 active firms provide education/training through offline coaching centres in India.

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Ritwik Sharma, Peerzada Abrar & Ashli Varghese
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