By Gh Mohi-ud-Din Sheikh
Even though there is a mushrooming growth of private coaching centers in our state, a majority of them do not accomplish the basic requirement of preparing students to excel in competitive examinations. These centers are usually run by government and private school teachers. Most of them lack the passion to achieve proficiency in guiding students to achieve comprehensive knowledge and the art of solving objective questions, particularly mathematical tricks necessary for competing in different entrance examinations. This is why all such students, as can afford, prefer to undergo coaching at other places like Kota or Delhi.
The reasons for inadequate functioning of coaching centers may be attributed to the ineffectiveness of the Department of Education, extremely cold winters, political unrest and lack of professional ethics in teachers. The latter put in little effort for objective teaching, instead directing their efforts towards subjective teaching to complete the syllabi of students usually left incomplete in schools. Moreover, the existing disorder in coaching centers becomes a sustainable source of corruption for the Directorate of School Education.
During 2014-15, out of about six hundred coaching centers operating in Kashmir Valley, the Hon’ble Judges, appointed by the Hon’ble High Court, conducted inspection of 81 centers, out of which only 58 had deposited the court fee with the High Court Registry, whereas the rest, (23), had not even deposited the said amount till July, 2015. This means that more than five hundred coaching centers had not been brought to the notice of Hon’ble High Court. Moreover, there are the unauthorised coaching centers operating in Jammu division.
It has also been observed that the couching centers that followed the directions of the Hon’ble High Court of J&K, were granted provisional registration for six months whereas some centers that did not respond to the High Court directions and were temporarily sealed by the concerned authorities were astonishingly granted registration for one year, and the rest also continued to function illegally. Under such circumstances, launching of Super 50 and banning of private tutoring of government teachers by the then Minister for Education, Nayeem Akhter, although a welcome step, did not prove to be the solution of the problem. It created confusion in the student community and will have an adverse effect on their studies.
Those who could afford it went outside the state for private coaching and the rest are found loitering between Super 50 and private coaching centers, particularly those run by government teachers in a hit and run method. Some government teachers are learnt to hide themselves in wash rooms and others use masks to dodge the inspection teams. In this way, they have put another nail into the coffin of the already deteriorated status of the teacher, whom Allama Iqbal compared with an architect: “Sheikhi Maktab Hay Ik Amarat Ghar/Jiski Sanat Hay Roohi Insani” (The teacher is like an architect with the difference that the building material of the architect is stones whereas that of the teacher is the human soul).
Surprisingly, the education authorities did not consider the fact that if quality education is not provided in schools throughout the academic session, how can the “Super Fifty Scheme” be successful, and that too at the mercy of the aggrieved government teachers who otherwise earn handsome amounts in their coaching centers? In this way, the student community is being betrayed by the unmanaged Super 50 Scheme invented by Mr Akhter.
It is also a fact that some unbridled coaching centers create a mess by admitting huge crowds of students, operating the centers in wee hours, forcing students to sit on the floor, using a public address system for teaching and making the coaching centers commercial hubs. They not only spread indiscipline but also pollute society. Such irregularities witnessed at coaching centers should be the concern of the state administration and the evil must be nipped in the bud.
Better late than never, the Governor of J&K should direct the education authorities to conduct inspections of private coaching centers throughout the state and register the centers that follow Government Order No 435-Edu of 2010, dated 30-4-2010 and the directions of the Hon’ble High Court; maintain teacher-student ratio of1:50 as well as discipline.
Moreover, the Director School Education Kashmir should initiate action against the corrupt employees of his office who issued registrations in favour of coaching centers that did not even submit an undertaking and the required fee in the office of the Registrar of the Hon’ble High Court. He should also make efforts to revive the erstwhile procedure of inspection of education institutions and bring the education sector out of the slump.
—The writer is former Professor, Department of Chemistry, Islamia College, Srinagar