Coaching classes serve as a parallel education system
Coaching classes are a support system for students preparing for board or competitive exams. Prachi Rege delves into the evolution, functioning and trends of what has emerged as an 'uber cousin' of the formal education system.
Just as they say, ‘there is a woman behind every man’s success’, it could be said that ‘there is a good coaching class behind every student’s success’. From private tuitions held at home to formal classes that have centres across the country, coaching classes are now reputed academic brands. The Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India‘s (ASSOCHAM) recent survey on “Business of private coaching centers in India”reveals that the current size of private coaching industry in India is about $23.7 billion and likely to touch $40 billion by 2015.
In a 2010-11 study, CRISIL pegged the market size of this parallel education system at Rs 40,187 crores. This is expected to grow to Rs 75,629 crores by the turn of the financial year 2014-15.
According to the ‘Asian Development Bank Report, ‘Shadow Education: Private Supplementary Tutoring and Its Implications for Policy Makers in Asia,’ the sector is estimated to be growing at over 15 per cent each year. As per the 2012 report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), about 83 per cent of India’s high school children attend coaching classes. Seeing the potential of the coaching business in the Indian market, foreigners too are investing heavily in this arena. In 2011, South Korean coaching giant Etoos invested Rs 30 Crores to set up centres in Kota, focusing on video lecturing and e-learning.
“Our emergence is a redressal to the rise in number of competitive exams a student has to give in order to achieve his/ her career goals,” says Mohit Sardana, Director and Head of territory, Mumbai centre, FIITJEE. He further adds that the objective of any coaching institution is to empower the student to compete in academics.
According to Sudhanshu Sinhal, Managing Director, Sinhal Classes, “A change of perception towards coaching has fuelled the growth.” Sinhal explains that previously, tuitions were meant only for weak students who couldn’t cope with their school exams. “There was a certain sense of stigma attached to it,” he says. However, it has now gone on to become a necessity for anyone and everyone who needs that extra training to make the grade.
Another reason for coaching classes to develop into a parallel academic system, is that parents want to provide their children with quality education. And it is not just academics, parents want them to make time for extra-curricular activities as well. “Earlier students would go to different private tutors after school. But getting trained in all subjects under one roof is the new mantra that parents recognised in the 90s,” says Aakash Chaudhry, Director, Aakash Educational Services Pvt. Ltd (AESPL).
A number of new trends have also evolved over a period of time in the coaching space. Technology and modern mantras of management are being used to make it a holistic learning process. Students coaching with AESPL, attend tablet labs to brush up on a difficult topic. Chaudhry says, “This is a good way to tap into shy students. Not all are comfortable to interact with the faculty member in a classroom, but find it easier to do so on a personalised forum.” They also conduct stress management and motivation lectures to prevent monotony of classroom lectures.
FIITJEE conducts weekly tests, which are followed up by ‘remedial day sessions’. As the name indicates these are conducted to rectify any shortcoming in the student’s ability to comprehend a topic. It is a cumulative form of testing. Three different weekly tests examine a student’s ability to understand concepts. Those who are not up to the mark, have to attend remedial sessions at the end of the third weekly test. Sessions are conducted personally by the faculty members.
“We focus on developing a student’s ability to think and apply knowledge. Schools teach the ‘what’ behind a concept, whereas we ask the ‘why’ of it,” explains Sardana. He further adds that FIITJEE also emphasises on self-study.
Most experts suggest that a student’s success in any exam is a result of the partnership between the coaching given and the former’s efforts and willingness to score. At Sinhals, students are given a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis report at regular intervals. “We started this method, because young people have the ability to accept data information. I got this idea during my time in the US, where most schools follow this method to give feedback to their students,” explains Sinhal. Parents get to see the SWOT report at the parent-teacher meetings which are conducted regularly.
The trend in any market changes every seven years and the coaching sector seems to be heading towards a demand from a younger audience. Class VIII students are enthusiastically preparing for Olympiads. Students focus not only on acing board exams, but also on brushing up their skills to crack competitive tests. “The advantage of this popularity is that concepts like derivatives which one learns in class XII, is being learnt at a younger age,” says Sardana. He believes that coaching class learning is the most transperant system, as there is a guarantee of instant and honest feedback. Parents too can closely monitor their child’s progress.
Keeping the popularity in mind, Sinhals is conducting a SciMath Olympiad scholarship test in March and April. Winners will earn scholarships to sign up with Sinhals for their IIT and medical entrance test coaching. “Students will get the best of both worlds. Besides adding to their knowledge in younger classes, they also have the advantage to increase their IQ,” signs off Sinhal.