Ardhra Nair/ ZRG
Summer vacations were always fun for 16 year old Jasin, who is preparing for various engineering entrance exams. Not this time! This class 12th student from Kerala now wakes up at 5 am every morning to study his class 12th course books, followed by hours of hard work at a reputed coaching institute and then finally goes to bed late in the night after putting in further hours of study.
Jasin is working overtime to make a success of the new model laid out by the Human Resource Development Ministry led by Kapil Sibal, even as this is leading to more stress in him to score even better.
Sibal recently proposed an all India common entrance to induct students into centrally funded engineering institutes. The change being that for the first time the final selection would depend on the score attained in class 12 as also the entrance test. The new exam will be conducted in two parts- main and advance.
This is what makes Jasin and many like him aspiring to join premier engineering colleges extra tense. From now onwards, to get to an IIT a 50 percentage weightage will be given to 12th board and main exam each. It would vary for admission to other engineering colleges.
Sibal said the common entrance test has two benefits: it will reduce the number of exams a student has to give and diminish the clout of coaching institutions training students for these exams.
Coaching institutes across India, however, are not only unperturbed, but also ready to take the bait. The top institutes have either already started an integrated teaching for competitive exams and the school boards or are strategizing on how to coexist the teaching patterns.
But they are keen to mask the excitement. FIIT-JEE, one of the top institutes in IIT coaching, said the changing pattern will not affect them at all. “Our course teaches in a manner that incorporates both the school syllabus and the IIT pattern. Hence, the change has no meaning for us,” said Gurpreet Singh, regional head, FIIT-JEE.
Amar Gupta, CEO, Pie Education, is less inhibited. “The decision won’t affect the coaching institutes at all, but it may lead to introduction of more coaching institutes in the market that concentrate more on the 12th syllabus,” Gupta said. The institute has already rolled on a pilot project based on the new model and the results are satisfactory.
But someone who has made a virtue of knowing what it takes to crack the IIT exam said it all: “Instead of decreasing the load, this will increase the mental and economic pressure on the students. What if the student falls ill on the exam day? His one year will be lost. Just think about the pressure of all exams combined. Suicide rates will double,” said Anand Kumar, of the Super30 fame.
There are other pitfalls too for the student community. Kumar asked, “Village children are bad at explaining things in exams plus the state education board’s marking system varies from state to state. How will these students compete with public school students?”
The pressure to crack top engineering colleges, especially IIT, is for real and has only grown over the years: in total, 8,02,068 students appeared for CBSE out of which 80.19 per cent cleared the exam. Among the central engineering entrance exams, AIEEE was attempted this year by 10,61,854 students and 4,79,657 students appeared for IIT-JEE.
There are 34,311 seats for B.Tech/B.E for those who clear AIEEE and 9647 seats in the 15 IITs, the Institute of Technology at Banaras Hindu University (IT-BHU) and the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad combined. The statistics show that there were 49.72 students vying for every single IIT seat while 30.94 students competed for every single AIEEE seat.
Will Jasin be lucky?