Time again, the wave of depravity, demoralization, debasement have started spreading its tentacles. Once the board exams were over, the private coaching centers couldn't wait for a day or two to give some space or breather to all those dead tired candidates whom they aim at to tempt and trap by their aggressive marketing gimmicks. When business or weather vagaries are out of gear, at least this sector has created such a hype and urgency among the parents to enroll their children in these centers without giving a second thought. The so called mentors or managers of these centers know how to earn the quick money throughout the year without social or moral accountabilities. For me coaching centers or companies are one and the same thing who know how to achieve the sales targets by the aggressive marketing campaigns. Since 5th Aug 2019, when all others businesses are incurring huge economic losses, private coaching is one of the pursuit which is in full bloom and mushrooming so rapidly. Almost every day the front pages of most of the leading newspapers are flooded with blitzkrieg advertisements of these new wannabe centers.
In the morning, while flipping the newspapers, we come across full page advertisements given by these coaching centers to represent the snapshots of their progress reports pertaining to different competitions. Not only the impressive figures catch our attention but these ‘funny nicknames’ of the associated teachers which these centers are trying to leverage on, are rib tickling like Aristotle, Amoeba, Algae, Protozoa, Photon, Fossil, Fusion, Tesla, Torque, Radium etc. It seems like, these self proclaimed intellectuals or subject specialists are running some kind of circus show? One fails to understand what they are trying to convey to gullible masses especially students. One really wonders to see such a height of commercialization of education system at large. It is annoying and astonishing to notice this unending rat race competition. Earlier it was STD outlets, now building malls, investing in diagnostic centers or establishing coaching centers have become the norm of the day for most of the Kashmiris.
As they say if you have the right marketing tools, anything can be sold. Huge chunk of money is being spent on the various types of promotions to create a psychological necessity among the masses. Not only print, audio and visual media but also shop keepers, students, school teachers etc work as field agents to facilitate the operations of enhancing their coverage and count. They don't do it free of cost, infact they are given cut in each successful deal. They visit far and distant villages to conduct workshops for the registration of students to grab more market share. Though it is common scene everywhere and one is taken by surprise while traveling from Hazratbal to Hawal, Hawal to Humhama, where in between, hoardings and posters are haphazardly displayed at main points, places and poles. At many high footfall squares, there are the huge displays as well which can grab anyone's attention. They are creating such a situation where parents are forced to feel that they can afford to live without one time meal but they cannot risk the future of their children by not sending them to these self claimed reputed centers. There are certain things which have not changed or have created this situation over the period of last three decades and if we will not take call at the earliest possible, things will turn uglier in near future. Some of the lacunas that we are still facing are as under:
Here in Kashmir, majority of the parents cannot think beyond medical science and engineering. It seems as if they have put on blinders and are helpless to see the other good things around. There are hundreds of new emerging fields which if pursued sincerely, will not only help them to sustain but they can shine and prosper as well. It doesn't matter whether these reluctant or aspiring doctors and engineers have the ability or not but most of them are being pushed against the wall and they couldn't find a way and freedom to do that which they like the most. Parents need to be very much realistic about the suitable fields where the children can willingly work hard to prove themselves.
Lack of counseling
It should be the one of the responsibilities of the schools to counsel all those out going students who had spent more than 18 long years to pursue their studies there. Who better can understand these kids than the teachers who taught them for years to guide and help them to choose the fields where they can easily excel and be independent and help to stop this mad race. By this initiative, the poor students will not become easy preys for exploitation.
Lack of exposure
Had there been any proper life coaching lessons being imparted among the students to guide and groom them reasonably, things would have been very much different and bright. They could have enough confidence to try new fields and never remain stuck to medical/non medical fields only. Unfortunately we are only after achieving the academic excellence without having experience and exposure to various life changing and challenging experiences.
It does come as a surprise for us to see teenagers fighting quite frequently in these areas which has become their favorite hangout spots. They are so rough and rude. There is so much of chaos on the streets due to traffic snarls when these young boys get involved in a road rage or fight over petty issues. Shouldn’t there be ‘checks and balances’ over such incidents and those at the helm of affairs should also understand that no other girl will have to suffer like our martyr Romana. One feels the concerned authorities are in deep slumber as well or rather are they are least concerned about these sad state of affairs.
Exorbitant fee structure
When entire valley is bearing the brunt of economic strangulation, it seems as if these centers are left unbridled to charge as much as they can without any rule and reasonability. Chalta Hai Chalna Dou, who cares? This has become the mindset of the people who have the power and authority. Corrective orders remain confined to papers only and the ground action or implementation seems a distant dream.
Somehow when the enthusiastic parents out of their hard earned money arrange the course fee, unfortunately they forget to take other things into account while enrolling their wards in these centers that is class capacity which is always stretched beyond the maximum limit. Shouldn't these parents introspect and see whether their children will be receptive and responsive in such a crowded atmosphere where one can get easily choked.
Derailed education system
One of the major reasons for this mess is the poor quality of education in the secondary and higher secondary schools run by the government. There seems hardly any accountability on behalf of the govt teachers, lectures and professors. There is no check on their performance and nothing has been done so form to evaluate whether they are capable enough to deliver or not. Is it not the responsibility of the state to inspect very often whether they are present at their work place or not. Mere delivering one or two lectures are not going to work, given the hefty monthly salaries they are drawing from the state exchequer. It should be the moral and social responsibility of the state employed teachers to create such a competitive, convenient atmosphere in the government run institutions that the enrolled students shouldn't feel a need to rely upon the private coaching centers. This is not only going to save their precious time but can ease off the financial burden on their families as well. It is high time for the govt teachers to come out of their comfort zones and start delivering for the greater good of the society. In this regard, district administrations should assign duties to the team of dedicated officers who will regularly monitor the attendance in these institutions. It can do wonders to keep every concerned official on toes to perform and deliver as is expected from them as the top priority at their workplaces.
It is note worthy to mention here that even the students of elite private schools, where fee structure always keeps sky rocketing, also take tuitions in private coaching centers. Are not the administrator's of these schools answerable and accountable for the quality of education as well? In West and Middle East, we hardly see students being encouraged to take private learning lessons. Everything is done then and there in the schools. What is stopping us to implement the same system here to put an end to this nuisance of ‘private spoon feeding’?
Let's us understand it is the first and foremost responsibility of the administration to see if there is an adequate competent staff available in the schools and colleges who can smoothly meet the requirements of the students. Almost in every college, new state of the art teaching tools like language labs, smart classes are being procured and placed at the disposal of the teachers and students so that nothing is left behind to make teaching process easy and effective. If some unscrupulous elements create the loopholes to push the students into the trap of private coaching centers, then it will be nothing but a sort of moral corruption and ugly blot on those who could change these mal practices despite having authority but lack concrete action.
Not only above concerns but also the large scale unemployment of highly qualified youth cannot be ignored.Govt should come up with the schemes or rather create a system which will generate the employment avenues for these talented people. Concerned authorities need to strike a balance of everything which shouldn't go against our morals and expected standards. We must work together as civilized and compassionate stakeholders of the society. Let’s not be ignorant and irresponsible enough to create a space and hand over the helm of affairs to those who are trying to convert our sacred institutions into ‘money minting enterprises’ and exploitation units.