Coaching Institutes have become commonplace in our highly competitive society. As new competitive exams, entrance tests, demanding syllabi, or any other academic pressure increases, students run towards these coaching institutes as the only possible solution. These institutes also crop up instantly as any new intellectual challenge is announced. They are seen as hubs providing quality education and necessary guidance to crack difficult exams. They work parallel to normative educational institutions, such as schools or colleges, to aid in students’ career aspirations. However, recent times show that the importance of these centres has increased to surpass that of the official academic institutes; they are no longer the side actors as they occupy a central position in a student’s life. This article will explore the socio-psychological impact of these coaching centres on a student’s life.
The coaching institutes have themselves become coveted spaces. Being presented as essential paths to desired career destinations, they have started carrying status symbols. Certain institutes are considered big names in the industry — reputed, expensive, and desired — such as T.I.M.E for CAT preparation, FIIT JEEs for JEE preparations, Aakash Institute for NEET preparations, etc. Many even organize separate entrance exams to decide which students to take under their mentorship. These entrance tests mimic the patterns of the competitive exams for which these institutes are providing coaching — thus elevating their importance to that of highly prized universities.
Moreover, these coaching places are structured hierarchically, where exceptional students are matched with more competent teachers. This is ensured by creating elite or exclusive batches which are only accessible to students after succeeding in rigorous evaluations. Abhipsa Mohanty records the comment of a career counselling expert on the enhanced significance of the coaching institutes: “There is the thought that coaching is needed for students to score well. There are so many big shots in the coaching conglomerate that, somewhere, makes people believe that if students do not enrol there, there's no other way of obtaining good scores. They advertise the top scorers for this”. It is argued that coaching institutes further foster the feeling of competition among the aspirants by creating divisions through multiple batches and highlighting the achievements of the top scorers.
Additionally, the coaches tutoring the students in these institutes command a position of reverence. Their words are treated like gospels, and their advice is followed in a blind, sheep-like manner. As an effective marketing strategy, these institutes advertise themselves as integral to the success of the candidates: the only ones who know how to crack the targeted exam. They encourage students to have blind faith in them and follow all their instructions unquestioningly. This ensures the loyalty of the students enrolled in their batch and creates a craving for the ones tempted to join.
While this strategy might be profitable for the coaching institutes, this can harm the outlook of the students. The students’ unfailing devotion to the words of their tutors makes them prone to added pressure as their coaches constantly emphasize the difficulty and the utmost necessity of the exams for which they are preparing. An aura of fear and anxiety is created in these spaces where it is asserted that the result of these exams will govern their whole life. The students consume various ideologies, opinions, biases, and motivations of their tutors unconditionally, slowly making all of them their own; the students equally accept both subject-related and general ideas.
Therefore, coaching institutes are not innocuous spaces providing specialized education, but they can affect the mental health of the students enrolled. These spaces build situations of extreme pressure and loneliness, leading to depression. Students must struggle with academic anxiety, parental expectations, social competition, and a looming fear of failure — all of which get aggravated in these learning institutes. A Times Now article comments on the increasing suicide rate among students, especially among those part of these coaching hubs: “Student Suicides in India have reached an all-time high in 2022. As per reports by National Crime Records Bureau, NCRB, student suicides saw an increase by 4.5 percent as compared to 2021. Out of these deaths, 14 cases have been reported from Kota, Rajasthan - the coaching centre hub of India”
Furthermore, these institutes are a part of the larger industrial complex as they enable in manufacturing of uniform subjects: lacking individuality or unique personality. Ignorant of the differences between students, they apply the same strategies and methods to create similar, ideal candidates for eminent schools and colleges. Equipped with similar training, the candidates that emerge out of these institutes have the same viewpoints and same aspirations. They are capable students who will become efficient workers in the larger corporate world and capitalist market.
A Hindustan Times article recognizes Kota, a significant hub of coaching institutes, as a typical factory: “Every morning, hundreds of children in neat uniforms, carrying identical bags, pour into shiny big buildings in Kota. At lunch, the batch empties on the streets, only to be replaced by another. In the evening, too, batches of students can be seen streaming out onto the crowded streets lined with food stalls and shops. These are Kota’s IIT coaching factories”. The heavily money-oriented, mechanized, and homogenous framework of these institutes makes them akin to industrial factories.
In conclusion, it can be said that these coaching centres need to be reformed. Their success cannot be just measured according to the ratio of the students cracking those aimed competitive exams. Instead, these spaces should be monitored in their socio-psychological treatment of their enrolled students as they actively shape the students’ mentality. Along with academic guidance, these centres should also provide psychological guidance to help students deal with the pressure of exams — since the students look up to these spaces for advice and support. Ultimately, a more positive teaching-learning environment must be created based on mutual understanding, empathetic support, and the recognition of individual needs.
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