Drive against coaching centres  

Published: February 14, 2019 22:02:56 | Updated: February 16, 2019 22:08:40

By February 12, as many as 35 coaching centres were sealed off by the mobile court for keeping those open in violation of the order of the ministry concerned. Also 37 people involved with coaching business were sentenced prison or fined for violation of the order. The drive has been launched according to the directive of the High Court and it will continue until the end of the on-going Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations on February 27 next. Its aim is to plug the loopholes through which question papers of the examination get leaked. This time none of the examinations held so far has been scandalised by question paper leak. This has been quite an achievement particularly when it is judged against the once unstoppable practice that had earned the ministry a bad name. It is good to see that a number of the frontline coaching centres have fully complied with the order by pulling down their shutters.

The development certainly offers some food for thought. If coaching centres can be closed during the examination period, question paper leak can be stopped. If this is so, its conclusion is really disconcerting. Some quarters among the coaching business have hot lines with people somehow or other are privileged to get access to question papers. Now that they cannot organise the gullible groups of candidate at a convenient place, even if they could manage to get hold of question papers, its business would be unprofitable. Thus the strategy may have put a brake on the business of question paper leaking. But there is no reason for growing complacent because, criminals usually find alternative ways to outfox the authorities. Let the authorities, instead, keep a few steps ahead so far as the security of question papers is concerned.

Clearly, temporary closure of coaching centres is no solution to the larger picture of education. Holding examinations is at best a strategic and technical option. By no means can it be an alternative to quality education where the need for copying in examination halls becomes absolutely redundant. The long-term aim should be to abolish commercial coaching. It has grown into a monster that has virtually made schooling redundant. Sure enough, teachers are largely to blame for not minding their class teaching. Instead they pay more and concerted attention to private coaching before and after class hours. This trend has to be reversed.

Extensive coaching for students of a particularly privileged segment of students has proved outrageously discriminatory. In villages, substandard teachers cannot offer even passable private coaching but in cities and towns the best in the business are available if one has enough money to buy their service. In rare cases, awfully disadvantaged students achieve enviable scores. But exceptions are no rule. The dividing line between village educational institutions and those of towns and cities should be dismantled gradually. Along with better infrastructures, village schools need quality teaching staff. High class infrastructure can be dispensed with in favour of quality teachers. So, the most important programme the government should undertake is to raise a highly capable crop of teachers, offering them a pay package commensurate with their qualifications.

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