Should Government Ban Private Coaching by its Teachers?

Concerned about the quality of education given to Valley students, three Kashmir University engineering students put a question mark on government decision to ban private teaching by public sector teachers

Students writing papers in Entrance Examinations to professinal colleges of Jammu and Kashmir in Srinagar on Saturday26, June 2010. photo by bilal bahadur
Students writing papers in Common Entrance Examinations to get seats in professional colleges of Jammu and Kashmir in Srinagar on Saturday 26, June 2010. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Being part of the same crowd of vulnerable and uncertain student community that flocks the tuition centers and people who provide tuitions and after experiencing the miseries of this, we always aspired for this system to be accommodative to the student concerns besides, ensuring student friendly functioning and accountability.

All these thoughts used to cross our minds during our pre-college days and finally we joined a new phase and giving way to new class of vulnerable and dreamful masses, experiencing the same journey and nothing changed except the tuition fee souring new heights and tuition centers turning it into big enterprise.

Finally, the government woke up and little changes were initiated in 2013 and after that we had a change in government itself and this issue appeared to have been brought to the Centre stage with various new and innovative initiatives being suggested.

All this gave flip to our hopes and we were optimistic that some substantial changes would take place in the way our educational sector functions. A year has passed since then, new promises hitting the dailies every second day but nothing substantial has been achieved yet, except for more frequent inspections to the schools and tuition hubs which is a welcome step but far less than what people and particularly students aspire for.

Instead government seems to be more serious about barring the public sector teachers from giving private tuitions even during non-school hours than ensuring the basic requirements of curriculum are met. To make this issue even more complex, the government clubbed this with the already complex and intricate issue of unemployment by suggesting that instead of these teachers providing tuitions, they envisaged a system where government teachers would be replaced  by the selected youth from the unemployed masses capable of delivering the service, who would be selected through proper examination in order to ensure  higher benchmarks and quality education but this idea, as revolutionary as it may seem is simply impractical unless there are structural and behavioural changes which if history is to bear testimony takes ages altogether.

First if we look at the coaching centers and the way these have evolved over these years, we will find the basic reason for their rise is either the falling standard of education in our schools or the parents’ desire to make their kids learn more than what formal class rooms offer. Based on ensuring these dual needs, coaching centers and private tuition centers emerged.

Subsequently, it became a very competitive affair with some finest minds of our valley providing their expertise and students getting benefitted. As time passed, it became a big enterprise with more and more people including government teachers providing tuitions. This became a competitive area based on survival of the fittest with students choosing the best among the lot and getting themselves benefitted against a fee.

Students are least bothered, if their tutor is in government service or not. As their performance outshined the existing structure of education, more and more people flock their kids to these hubs and tuition centers became unmanageable. Their fee sky rocketed and their structures rendered incapable. Instead of recognizing their role and contribution towards students and regulating them to ensure that their fees don’t go out of proportion and capacity of people, the government initiated a process to paralyze this system by baring the government teachers from providing tuitions.

Now the question remains, what magic wand does government have to declare that these teachers will be able to deliver equally well given the limited time period and structural constraints they face in schools. Also, how can they be so sure that newly inducted people will be equally or even more efficient than time tested teachers already there? By substituting them with youth from unemployed masses to continue tuition centers, isn’t the government conceding to the fact of falling standards in education?

If we look at the present situation, we will see that students are confused about their prospectus. Even if they have joined the tuition centers after paying the huge fees, they are uncertain about the fate of their tutors and the tuition centre itself and find themselves in omnishambles.

We are yet to hear about any policy decision on the selection of people eligible to replace government teachers, neither anything about the fate of tuition centers. Schools continue to remain far behind from completing the syllabi and tuition centers rendered incapable. With most of educational calendar lost to controversy and winter already reaching our door steps. The only viable alternative left with the government is to use its own machinery, the government schools during winters and facilitate the government teachers to provide voluntary service by providing them some incentives for teaching students in their nearest schools during winter vacations. The teachers should also consider taking this a social responsibility or let the tuition centers function hassle free by regulating them on student friendly lines.

(Sajad-ul-Haq Lone, Mansoor Ahmad Sofi, and Ehsan Farooq contributed in this write up and are currently pursuing engineering degree from Kashmir University)


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