Take a look at this headline:

And now at this,

The two headlines show the two sides of a phenomenon by the name of coaching culture in India— a successful business and a deadly trap. Physics Wallah, is just one of many private coaching Institutes in India that offer exam-oriented education needed for students to pass various competitive examinations like JEE and NEET. To understand private coaching institutes which has now transformed into a  cultural phenomenon, we need to trace back the origins of this craze by going back in time to the 1980s.

In 1983 Kota, a man by the name of V K Bansal started personal tuitions at his home to help students prepare for the IIT-JEE. A few of his students went on to actually clear the entrance. Motivated by his success In 1991, he founded Bansal Classes. Later, competitors like Allen, Resonance and Vibrant came up laying the foundation for private coaching and changing forever the face of Kota, a small city by the side of the river Chambal in Rajasthan.

Today, the coaching industry is certainly not limited to Kota. According to the data published by the National Sample Survey in 2016, there are 7.1 crore students enrolled in tuitions across India. Coaching Institutes are now rampant and quite literally everywhere. As students or parents, all of us have had some experience with it.

The annual revenue of coaching institutes is a whopping INR 24,000 crore, according to a 2015 estimate by an expert committee set up by the education ministry (then-Union Human Resource Development ministry). The current market revenue of the coaching industry in India is INR 58,088 crore, according to Infinium Global Research, a consultancy firm based in Pune. The coaching industry’s growth is projected to reach INR 1,33,995 crore by 2028.(Source)

The market size of Private coaching institutes has grown so much over time that it has moved from supplementing mainstream education to its supplantation. Through this essay, an attempt has been made to condense and analyse the effects of privatisation of supplementary education in our country. 

There are multiple players involved in the phenomenon that is the coaching institute. Player is the appropriate term here because through coaching culture all of education has been reduced to a game. The primary players of this game are the parents, the teachers, the businessman, society and finally at the bottom of it all, crumbling under all of their pressure is the student. The coaching industry has been allowed to exist because of the asymmetric flow of information or the narrative, set by all of these players, playing this game on the student’s life.

To begin with, there’s the top institutes in India and their coveted seats. This includes IITs, NITs, AIIMS, etc. This is where everyone tells you it all culminates. A seat in one of the best colleges in India. The dream. What people conveniently ignore to mention is the scarcity and the ensuing hardship and heartbreak. This spectacle of coaching is orchestrated to ‘prepare’ students for a rat race, with over 10 lakh students competing for just tens of thousands of seats.In this scarcity and competition, a fear of impossibility festers. Leaching off that fear is the businessman. The businessman offers a path, a ray of hope; for he is not selling education, but dreams. Then, there is the society. The society’s task in this spectacle is to glorify anyone who grabs a seat in one of  these institutions. After all, the prestige of these institutions is unparalleled and the competition so intense. There are the parents and relatives, who from an innocent wish to see their child respected by society, buy into the lies of the businessman and enrol the child into his lair.  The teachers in this game play the role of a puppet parroting the propaganda of the businessman within the classroom. All of these systems in place close on the student like an inescapable rat trap, thus making them prisoners of expectation and pressure. No wonder why our student suicide rates are ever increasing.

Coaching is not cheap either. For classes 11 and 12, the tuition can go up to 3 lakhs and sometimes even beyond. The perception created by the businessman is strong. The perception that without him, your child has no chance to succeed. As a result, more and more parents are passively forced to borrow money to send their child for coaching.

It’s despicable that something as noble as education has been allowed to become a profit-making machine. Students are now products of this factory. The ones that do not make it are defects and must be discarded, never to be spoken about again. The ones that do, need to be glorified. After all, the market needs to be convinced that the formula for success offered by these corporations does work. Big billboards are put up and a divide is created. Scarring lakhs of students every year with lack of self-confidence. Analysing the expense breakdown of multiple coaching institutes, we can see that anywhere between 15-39% of expenses goes to advertisements. How else will the spectacle stand?

Image showing BYJU’s expense breakdown:
Look at the share of advertising and promotional expenses

The effect of coaching institutes can also be seen in the pass outs of IIT and other national institutions. IITs were supposed to create great minds who will contribute heavily to the development of our nation. This is reflected in Prime Minister Nehru’s speech, in the first convocation address of IIT Kharagpur :

Here in the place of that Hijli Detention Camp stands the fine monument of India, representing India’s urges, India’s future in the making. This picture seems to me symbolical of the changes that are coming to India.

Today it has been reduced to a building that manufactures MNC workers who can grab the highest salary package. Very few IITians go into higher studies, and those that do mostly go for an MBA, another coveted and respected degree in society.

The most comical job pursued by IIT and NIT graduates is perhaps being teachers at coaching 

institutes. Creating this absurd cycle:

Image credits: Original Content

How long will we allow competition and capitalism to take away the lives of our youth? In an economy, education should never be considered as a business. It is an investment for the future of our nation. Limiting the potential of youth is perhaps the greatest crime any nation can commit. By allowing coaching institutes to continue existing, India is repeatedly compromising on its future.

—Keerthana Satheesh

FY BSc Division 1 (2022-25)

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