The summer capital of Srinagar has become a hub of coaching institutes. The city roads, intersections and inner lanes are dotted with hoardings of coaching institutes with pictures of young brains that have cracked entrance examinations and are looking forward to a bright future. Many residential houses in civil lines have been converted into hostels for students from different districts, who want to chase their dream in different fields and see the coaching centers as the first step in the long ladder to the success.
Some families hailing from rural areas have sold their properties and shifted to Srinagar just to provide good facilities to their children preparing for various entrance examinations. In many cases, however, unfortunately, years of self-exile, intense sacrifice, no social life and zero entertainment ends in disappointment. Only last year an aspirant who was studying in a coaching institute in Rajasthan committed suicide. The tragedy happened after results for joint entrance examination (JEE Main) came out.
These days, student’s suicides are reported on a daily basis. There were 17 such tragedies in 2015 and four in 2016. Ayat (name changed), a girl student who is studying in Srinagar, disclosed that there was pressure on her to qualify the entrance examination. (Can one imagine the state of mind of such a girl, who is barely eighteen. How frustrating it must be for her to live in such an atmosphere of extreme pressure. Why should we live with the notion that only those who study science are academically brilliant?)
Parents should help children explore and chase their own dreams. For most families, a career in engineering and medicine is a world in itself.
Hina, our classmate at a coaching institute in Srinagar spoke fluent English, and was an avid sports player. She used to devote a minimum of seven hours to prepare for entrance examination and took frequent breaks after practice sessions to relax. After cracking the examination for engineering, Hina, who lives in down town area of Srinagar has some pearls of advice for those contemplating a similar path: “You have to like the subject”. Be passionate about the exam. I do not mean that those who do not like the subject don’t succeed, but the chances are slimmer. In fact, Hina contends that the eagerness to write the exam will be less, but if you are writing the exam because of parental or peer pressure, then it is bound to be more.
The sportswoman acknowledges that parental pressure should be checked and, in her case, there was no such kind of pressure. But parents should know whether their child is oriented towards engineering and medicine or not. And, it is here the question of exploring the interests of children arises.
Time has come when parents should look around and analyze how children have excelled in the career of their choices. In most cases , we have seen how parents push their children into a particular field without actually knowing their capacity or ever trying to understand what they actually want. We require a fine balance in the system where we have to support students to be self-motivated. In the contemporary era, coaching classes are partly responsible for messing up higher education system across the state. These centers have an intake of hundreds of students and make them practicing the previous questions papers. This is essentially inculcating learning by rote – which anyone who is sensible will tell you – is not learning at all.
There is a gap between what is taught in classrooms by a teacher and what is being taught by the same tutors at a coaching institute. Working under pressure might get you a good career but not a great life. And, as it is often said, the purpose of education is not to make a living, but to make a life. But, what are we reducing education to. It is the right time we face this question and try to find out right answers.
The author is a Srinagar based freelance Journalist. He can be reached at: email@example.com