Friday, December 19, 2014

Kota - The Hub of the Indian Coaching Institute Empire – Part 1


A May 12th, 2013 Business Today article titled, ‘The Dream Factories’ written by Sarika Malhotra mentioned the following points about students in Kota, India. Read here


‘Singh's friend is among more than one lakh students who arrive in Kota, the mecca of IIT coaching, every year. Girls comprise nearly a fifth of the students.
This year about 1.25 lakh students are likely to join Kota-based institutes, according to estimates by coaching centres. Besides, there are the so-called "droppers", who stay on for repeat attempts by hopping from one institute to another. Most students fail to make it to the IITs as seats are limited and competition intense. That still hasn't dampened the aspirations of thousands of others.’



Conversations with a former student


I was in Kota, Rajasthan for a campaign tour. I grew up hearing stories about students that got into India’s top engineering institute IIT from here. A friend I grew up with, had left for Kota in the tenth. He spent two gruesome years at Kota. I got back in touch with him when I reached Kota. He had passed out of the coaching center in Kota, and joined an engineering college in Mumbai.



With his prior permission, here are some of his reflections on the coaching industry in Kota



‘Students are very bright, but somewhere down the line the system is wrong. Because you study not because you like it, but for the competition. No one learns for love or passion but only for the competition. It is all about mental strength and what they (coaching institutes) are doing is totally wrong because the training makes you so competitive that you cannot do anything.’


 

He also shared with me how certain times, the institutes would separate the students based on the marks they got. If your marks went low you were shifted to another batch. ‘Most people come here from financially troubled backgrounds. Getting into IIT is like a ticket to becoming rich for them.’


I thought hard about this situation that night. The coaching institutes were giving a handful of students hope for a better future. But only a handful, because a majority of the students fail to make it into the top institutes and end up having to pay large donations to go to another engineering college.



Suicide among Students in Kota



Every year over a dozen students commit suicide in Kota. I am surprised the number is not more, with the highly competitive environment prevalent there. It was hard speaking to the students and teachers there. There was so much I was frustrated about, in the way learning and education was being done there. I was a victim of these IIT preparation institutes in the 8th grade as well. It was the worst year of my student life. I could not voice my opinion there. But I will voice my opinion now.



There is too much pressure on the students to succeed in Kota and the chances of failing are really high. As a psychiatrist Mr C.S Sushil explained the increasing cases of depression among students in the Business Today article,



‘"At the back of a student's mind is the fear of being a failure and all the money that his family has spent on him,"’



Everyone wants to send their child to IIT, but nobody seems to ask the student this vital question,



‘Are you passionate about Engineering?’

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