On Tuition Centres

On Tuition Centres

Tuition centres (also known as coaching centres) in Kashmir have mushroomed over the years. The reasons for this stupendous growth accrue largely from the burgeoning demand for education here and its lax or slack supply. There then is a clear mismatch between demand and provision of education and its nature in Kashmir. This mismatch creates space and room for private players to fill in. Hence, the burgeoning of tuition and compensation centres. While, at some levels, and to an extent, these centres do fill in the gaps and lacunae in education, but over time these have morphed into pure business and commercial ventures. The lure of lucre is so enticing in the for profit tuition centres that even teachers who are actually Government employees teach at the centres- at least, some of them. Moreover, despite the fact that people pay for the education of wards at these centres, the infrastructure is usually shoddy. One problem that plagues government schools in Kashmir, high pupil to teacher rations, also is prevalent in these centres. More importantly, perhaps is the nature or even absence of accountability of thee for profit ventures. Admittedly, lax accountability also defines public schooling in Kashmir, but, in the least, in theory, they are accountable to someone. However, it is not so in case of tuition centres. Should tuition centres then be banned or closed in Kashmir? The option of closing, howsoever attractive, might not be prudent given that these centres fill an urgent need. In reality, these serve as a supplement to extant structures, processes and delivery of education here. The need then is not an issue or in question. But, what is at issue is the manic mushrooming of these centres, the quality and delivery of education in these. One solution that presents itself is vigorous regulation, both in terms of the number of these centres allowed and the quality of education provided thereof. A ceiling needs to be in place to prevent extravagant mushrooming of tuition centres with due provisos for quality. Strict and diligent monitoring guidelines, provisions with clear cut injunctions for legal sanction (not merely closure) if these guidelines are breached need to be instituted and put in place. In the final analysis, private provision of education in Kashmir flows from huge inadequacies in the public education system(s). Most prudent would be for government schools to raise their game and conform to higher standards. But, given the inertia that defines administrations here, this might not happen- even in the distant future. Alas!

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